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State of the Union viewership down: Was Dorner a factor?

UPDATED: Did heavy interest in the Christopher Dorner siege hurt the president’s State of the Union Address ratings?

Barack Obama’s State of the Union address was the least-watched since he first took office.

A total of 33.5 million viewers tuned in for the Tuesday night telecast, according to Nielsen Media Research. That’s down 11 percent from last year, which was the president’s previous least-watched State of the Union address. The speech was also down 36 percent from Obama’s 2008 address after he first took office.

But on a couple of the cable networks, intensive live national Dorner coverage actually increased viewership for Obama’s speech compared to last year since Fox News, CNN and MSNBC were all covering Dorner up until the address — giving the president a presumably strong lead-in. READ FULL STORY

Fewer 'Following'

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Can Fox’s The Following solidify into success?

The first two episodes were solidly solid-ish. Last week the freshman drama dropped a little. Monday’s episode dropped some more — 17 percent. The serial killer thriller is still doing okay. The Following had 7.7 million viewers and a 2.4 rating, rising slightly from its Bones lead-in.

Since the start of the year, new shows haven’t been doing well. TNT’s Monday Mornings, FX’s The Americans (the second episode dropped sharply), CBS’ The Job have disappointed, and there’s the whole NBC situation. The best-performing major series launch since the start of the year has been The Following, so seeing the heavily hyped drama soften in the ratings is worrisome.

Fox points out that viewership on the series is actually pretty big once you total up all the various platforms. If you take The Following‘s series premiere next-day viewership (10.4 million) add its seven-day DVR gain (4.7 million) add its encore telecast (2.8 million — hey, cable networks do this all the time!) and add video on demand (1 million) and add online streaming via Fox.com and Hulu (1.4 million “initiated streams”… I know, but go with it) … total all that up and you get about 20 million viewers. Granted there’s some voodoo math there, but it still tallies to an impressive number that largely isn’t counted in media reports.

These next-day ratings, like the chart below, are still important too, though, and networks rely on them heavily to make decisions (NBC didn’t wait for the seven days of DVR data to come in before making the decision to cancel Do No Harm). The first round of numbers don’t tell you the grand total number of people who will watch a show, but they do tell you how many watched compared to other shows on the air and whether the numbers are trending up or down. Next-day ratings are like box office opening weekend — they tend to accurately separate hits from flops based on a first round of data. It’s middling shows like The Following where things can get tricky to judge, but a downward trend is a downward trend no matter how you slice it. Let’s hope the show stabilizes in the coming weeks.

Back to the chart: ABC’s Bachelor and Castle were both up slightly, with Bachelor climbing to a season high. CBS’ comedy block was down across the board from last week when HIMYM helped kick start the lineup with a season high (Robin Sparkles giveth and now taketh away). NBC’s Biggest Loser was down a tick and Deception was up. CW’s Carrie Diaries was down a tick.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

'The Walking Dead' returns to jaw-dropping record ratings

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The Walking Dead has done it again.

Another. ANOTHER. Series-high rating.

Sunday night’s midseason return of the AMC zombie drama delivered 12.3 million viewers and a 6.1 adults 18-49 rating — its biggest yet in both measurements.

And that was against The Grammys.

To give you an idea of how stunning this performance is, ABC’s Once Upon a Time sank to a series low 2.2 in the adult demo last night and Fox’s Family Guy went down to a 2.4 — and those are the broadcast shows that performed the best against the music awards show.

Put another way: Last Thursday’s American Idol had 13.3 million viewers and a 4.1 rating and Wednesday’s edition had 14.3 million and a 4.6 rating. So in the all-important adult demo — if not total viewers — The Walking Dead beat last week’s American Idol telecasts. In fact, The Walking Dead‘s average for its current third season in the demo is higher than top broadcast shows like Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory and NCIS. And among cable, there’s no comparison — last night’s episode was the biggest adult demo number ever for a basic cable series.

Oh, and if you include The Walking Dead‘s encore telecast, the show’s viewership rises to 16.6 million for the night. READ FULL STORY

Friday ratings: 'The Job,' 'Touch' disappoint

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Two shows premiered last night: CBS’ new reality series The Job and the return of Fox’s Kiefer Sutherland drama Touch. Both did about the same. Neither did well.

The two-hour Touch debut had 3.8 million viewers and a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49. It’s probably unfair to compare this Friday premiere to the show’s series series opener on a Thursday after American Idol last year — that rating was 230 percent higher (not a typo) than this one. This number is about the same as what Fringe was pulling on Fridays.

CBS’ The Job (4.1 million, 0.9) is a reality competition series where ordinary people compete for ordinary jobs. Sound exciting? The debut — promoted during CBS’ coverage of the Super Bowl — was down 53 percent from the premiere of Undercover Boss in this slot. READ FULL STORY

'Community' surprise: Ratings up

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NBC has been getting hammered in the press for its spiraling ratings the past several weeks. New shows Deception, Do No Harm and 1600 Penn have collapsed out of the gate, while the heavily hyped return of Smash bombed earlier this week.

Now here comes little Community, finally back on the air for its fourth season. And guess what? The comedy returned higher — just slightly, mind you, but still: In a season where most shows returned lower, Community bucked that trend. Oh, and the comedy was facing Fox’s American Idol – unlike its fourth season opener — and TV’s top-rated comedy The Big Bang Theory.

Community delivered 4 million viewers and a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49 at 8 p.m., up 6 percent from its previous debut in September, 2011. The show improved on NBC’s average in this slot this season by 38 percent and boosted 8:30 p.m.’s Parks and Recreation to a season high. Meaningless comparison: Community was 50 percent higher than Tuesday’s Smash premiere.

This is sure to be joyous news for the Community team, which has watched NBC heavily promote Smash while pushing their show from its original fall premiere date. And it will also help those renewal odds. As NBC chief Robert Greenblatt said last month, the show could “absolutely” get a fifth season. (Buzzkill disclaimer: Community‘s adult demo rating could be adjusted down to tie its previous premiere rating when Nielsen releases its more accurate numbers this afternoon, but one network analyst said the 1.8 should be sustained — at worst, the comedy managed to remain steady despite increased competition, a protracted hiatus and a showrunner shakeup). UPDATE: In the afternoon nationals, Community went UP to a 1.9.

Community wasn’t the only show with news last night. ABC’s Scandal, that wild political soap on Adderall, rose to match its series high. Check out Mark Harris’ spot-on essay where he calls it TV’s “most ridiculous, chaotic bat#@!*-crazy show.” Grey’s Anatomy was up 11 percent too.

The rest: The Office was flat. 1600 Penn dropped 15 percent. Do No Harm slid 22 percent from last week’s historic (in a bad way) debut. On CBS, Big Bang Theory was up 13 percent (that number may look like a season high, but it’s not, which speaks to how insanely well this comedy is performing this season). Men was up 5 percent, POI was steady and Elementary was up 5 percent. Fox’s American Idol was down 9 percent while Glee was up 5 percent. The CW’s Vampire Diaries fell 15 percent and Beauty was down 14 percent.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

'Modern Family' hits season low: Why are ratings slipping?

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What’s happening to Modern Family?

Earlier this season, the acclaimed ABC series was the highest-rated comedy on TV. But CBS’ Thursday king The Big Bang Theory has since climbed to top the weekly chart hitting recent season highs, and Modern Family has slipped to No. 2 and relinquished its crown. Last night’s episode marks a season low for the show, down 10 percent to 10.1 million viewers and a 3.8 adults 18-49 rating.

What’s behind the slippage?

Well, its ABC neighbors sure don’t help much (or rather, its Neighbors). And Modern Family now has to contend with Fox’s American Idol, which has likely had an impact the past few weeks (one analyst noted that Modern Family tends to hit its low point around this time of year). Of course, Big Bang airs at 8 p.m. so it doesn’t even have a lead-in, also faces Idol, plus is an older show.

Perhaps it’s that Modern Family is rather ambitious and creatively complex with a large cast that seeks to work as a comedy with tinges of deeply heartfelt drama — pulling all that off week after week is huge juggling act.

The rest of ABC’s lineup had mixed results. The Middle was down 8 percent. The Neighbors was up 13 percent and Suburgatory went up 17 percent (thanks to Modern Family not running a repeat this week). On CBS, Criminal Minds tied its series low; CSI dropped 8 percent despite airing its well-promoted CSI: NY cross-over episode. Fox’s Idol led the night yet fell 16 percent for the start of Hollywood Rounds. NBC was largely down about 10 percent except Guys With Kids which fluxed up a tenth. On The CW, Arrow rose a notch and Supernatural was flat.

Full Chart:

READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey' holds up against Super Bowl

On a night dominated by the Super Bowl, Downton Abbey still managed to draw an impressive crowd on Sunday.

Roughly 6.6 million viewers tuned into the episode that had Robert (Hugh Bonneville) still in the doghouse with Cora (Elizabeth McGovern). Overall, the average audience for season three’s first five episodes is 72% higher than the first five episodes of season two, according to Nielsen ratings.

The season premiere on Jan. 7 averaged 11.1 million viewers, which made it the most-watched PBS drama of all time. Many fans have flocked to the internet to catch old episodes: there were more than 6.3 million streams of all Downton Abbey content on PBS video platforms, 35% higher than January 2012.

The third season of the Emmy-winning period drama wraps Feb. 17.

For more:

‘Downton Abbey’ fake Facebook newsfeed
‘Downton Abbey’: Should [spoiler alert] get a new love interest in season 4?

 

'Elementary' Super Bowl ratings dim

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It’s the case of the missing viewers!

Fewer sports fans stuck around to watch Elementary compared to any post-Super Bowl entertainment show in the past nine years.

And it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out why.

The 34-minute power outage during Super Bowl XLVII delayed CBS’ presentation of the freshman mystery drama. The episode episode started at 11:15 p.m. ET. That’s the latest start time for a post-championship entertainment program in at least 10 years.

Elementary delivered 20.8 million viewers and a 7.8 rating in the adult demo, marking the smallest post-game audience since ABC aired Alias after the Super Bowl in 2003 (which was the last post-game show to start after 11 p.m.). Still, it’s enough to mark the highest-rated entertainment telecast of the year in the adult demo.

In the episode, Holmes was forced to work with an FBI profiler who previously deceived him and used him for research.

While airing a show after the Super Bowl can deliver big ratings, it seldom impacts a scripted show’s popularity in the long term. Fox’s Glee in 2011 and NBC’s The Office in 2009 didn’t see much of a benefit in the weeks following their game-day airings. Serialized reality competition series, however — where the post-Bowl episode is basically a cliffhanger that can draw viewers into an ongoing competition — sometimes get a longer boost. CBS ran Survivor All-Stars in 2004 and NBC showed The Voice last year and both shows enjoyed elevated ratings during their respective seasons.

As for the big game, the final numbers are now in. And are a bit surprising.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

NBC does 'Harm': Lowest-rated drama premiere in modern history

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Bet NBC is missing The Voice today.

After ruling the fall in the ratings, the network hasn’t had much to sing about ever since its prized reality competition series started its winter break in December. NBC’s primetime average has dropped 16 percent since the beginning of the year. Freshman comedies Go On and The New Normal — previously boosted with a Voice lead-in — fell to season-low performances this week. A new Monday-night drama launched last month, Deception, is delivering weak numbers. And now another midseason drama, the medical show Do No Harm, had its series premiere Thursday night and set a broadcast ratings record.

Not a good record.

Do No Harm ranks as the lowest-rated in-season broadcast scripted series debut in TV history among the Big Four networks (since at least 1987 when the current ratings measurement system was adopted). It’s also the least-watched in-season broadcast drama premiere ever among the Big Four. Do No Harm didn’t do much of anything with 3.1 million viewers and a 0.9 adults 18-49 rating among adults 18-49. The telecast was down 55 percent from the premiere of Awake in the slot last March.

The show wasn’t much helped by critics, who scored the show an average of 38 out of 100 on Metacritic. It also wasn’t aided by its 10 p.m. time slot. This is the old ER slot, so a medical drama makes historical sense (even one with a weird Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde twist). But it’s been a long time since ER was on the air. NBC had been running the very modestly rated Rock Center with Brian Williams in this hour, so there hasn’t been a lot of viewers hanging around this neighborhood lately.

In case you’re wondering, the previous all-time demo-low scripted series premiere Big Four record-holder is a tie between NBC’s short-live sitcom Bent, which launched last year, and Fox’s 2008 comedy effort The Return of Jezebel James starring Parker Posey. A different way to look at this: The Return of Jezebel James delivered such a terrible performance that despite all the broadcast ratings woes over the last decade it set a bar so low that it wasn’t broken for five years.

NBC was able to give 30 Rock a lift for its series finale last night, however. The last episode of the acclaimed Tina Fey comedy series had 4.8 million viewers and a 1.9 rating, up 36 percent this week to a season high.

Also Thursday: The return of CBS’ Big Bang Theory to originals easily beat Fox’s American Idol, which fell 12 percent this week. Glee fell 19 percent. ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy dipped 7 percent to a series low. Scandal was up 4 percent. The CW’s Vampire Diaries was steady. CBS’ lineup dipped slightly from their last original episodes.

FULL CHART: READ FULL STORY

CBS beats 'Whitney' and 'Neighbors' by airing commercials

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CBS trounced original comedies on NBC and ABC by airing commercials Wednesday night.

The network’s annual special, Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials, had 9.9 million viewers and a 2.1 rating among adults 18-49. That’s up 5 percent from last year, nearly winning 8 p.m. outright if not for a certain Fox singing competition.

Especially in this era of ad-skipping DVRs, isn’t this dream programming for a network? A show full of commercials, with commercials, that beats the competition.

Meanwhile, let’s check in on American Idol. Shaking up a reality show panel is a bit like performing a major organ transplant. There’s this tense period for a few days after the operation while doctors wait and see if the patient’s immune system will accept the foreign matter or acutely reject the new organ. Fox put Idol‘s judging panel under the knife for Season 12. So far, fans aren’t outright rejecting Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban.

Now in Week 3, American Idol delivered 15.6 million viewers and a 5.4 rating among adults 18-49 on Wednesday night. That’s only down a tenth from last week’s rating in these early numbers. Is Idol pacing as its lowest-rated regular season yet? Sure, that’s expected. But viewers aren’t exactly fleeing from Minaj’s wigs. Overall, Idol isn’t dropping week-to-week as much as last year.

The rest of broadcast had grimmer news.

With ABC airing half-originals, half-repeats, ABC’s The Neighbors was down 20 percent to match its season low and Suburgatory was down 18 percent to tie its series low. NBC’s Whitney was down 7 percent, Guys With Kids was down 15 percent to tie its season low, SVU was down 19 percent and Chicago Fire was down 9 percent. The CW’s Arrow was down 18 percent, though Supernatural was steady.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

'New Girl' rises, crushes all Tuesday comedy

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Fox’s New Girl continues to show up all the other Tuesday comedies. Though its numbers aren’t exactly thrilling, the Fox sophomore comedy series manages to stand well above the crowd of strugglers and stragglers on the evening (and last night’s comedy cluster was truly a crowd — broadcast networks aired seven sitcoms across nine half-hour time slots).

New Girl was up 14 percent to have its best rating in three months, with 4.7 million viewers and a 2.5 rating in the demo. Again, not huge. But let’s look at the demo ratings for everybody else: New Girl‘s lead-out Mindy Project had a 1.7 (the comedy’s best number in four months), then there was a one-hour Raising Hope (1.7 and 1.5), ABC’s one-hour Happy Endings (1.2 and 1.3), NBC’s Go On (1.2) and The New Normal (1.1), with both the NBC shows hitting a series low.

Also Tuesday: ABC’s new food competition series The Taste disappointingly dropped 24 percent from last week’s promising debut (guess “just one taste” is all that viewers wanted?). Airing a primetime repeat of Matt Damon’s takeover of Jimmy Kimmel Live came in last place at 10 p.m. CBS’ NCIS was down a notch from last week’s record-setting viewership, while NCIS: LA and Vegas were both up at least 15 percent from their last original episodes a couple weeks ago. The CW’s Hart of Dixie dipped.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

'The Following' grows

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Somewhat unexpected and ultimately promising: Adult demo ratings for the second week of Fox’s The Following went up. Just slightly, mind you, and this trend line could flatten out when the more accurate national ratings are released later today. But in these preliminary numbers, the serial killer thriller showed improvement for its second episode, bucking the usual Week 2 drop trend for new dramas.

There are a couple mitigating factors that industry insiders are probably already starting to write an email to me about even before they finish reading this sentence: CBS’ comedy block was in repeats in the 9 p.m. hour, unlike last week, so there was less competition. Also, The Following‘s lead-in, Bones, hit a season high, so that likely helped too (and is also good news for Fox).

Still, as I like to point out in cases like this, nothing can force viewers to watch a TV show. You can only help a show if viewers are already inclined to watch anyway. The Following still deserves some credit for, at minimum, holding roughly steady with its premiere instead of falling off.

Also Monday: ABC’s The Bachelor matched last week’s season high. The third week of The Carrie Diaries improved some of its female demos, though its 18-49 rating was unchanged. NBC’s Biggest Loser dipped 4 percent and new show Deception did not improve.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

SAG Awards ratings up

Hollywood’s top actors delivered improved ratings for TNT’s annual telecast of the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The Sunday night telecast delivered 5.2 million viewers across TNT and its sister network TBS, including 2.1 million adults 18-49. The show was up a slight 2 percent among total viewers and up 5 percent in the demo.

The networks also announced a new three-year contract to continue carrying the awards fest. The show gave to TV honors to performances by Claire Danes in Homeland, Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey in 30 Rock and the casts of Downton Abbey and Modern Family. For more, check out EW’s best and worst red carpet pics, top moments and photos from our own SAG party.

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