Television history was about to change a bit, when NBC premiered their long-running medical drama ER on September 19, 1994, before finding its way to its stronghold Thursday 10pm timeslot, where it remained for its entire lifespan. For the first few weeks, the Michael Crichton-created and John Wells-run drama was facing off against CHICAGO HOPE on CBS, and the expectations were not friendly with NBC in this duel. CHICAGO HOPE got the better reviews, and had the bigger name behind the camera (David E. Kelley). Which is probably why it was such a surprise for everyone when ER turned out to be the more successful show. And most likely a week later, no one was surprised anymore, when they saw that ER was not only the more successful TV drama, but also much better quality-wise.
ER is the show I could always watch. In fact, I currently watch at least one episode a day of this show, for most likely the rest of my life. It is my all-time favorite show after all. and it looks like I was not the only one thinking that, looking at the numbers for the first season, which started off high for NBC, but low compared to what ER would deliver during the next four, five years. The season started off with a 27 share, and even went as high as a 40 share, cementing its place in television history. In a way, the first action-episode “Blizzard” put ER on the map of Nielsen ratings killers, delivering the highest numbers of the show so far (it was the first episode above a 20.0 rating), and continuing to climb afterwards. Whatever kind of promo NBC stuck behind that one episode, viewers were interested after that.
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I interrupt the usual way of choosing the shows I wanna archive here and continue with a first second season, because why should I be waiting for another year to post second-season numbers, even if they are as uninteresting are those of 2 BROKE GIRLS. The first season of the CBS sitcom turned out to be a success, albeit the ratings for the series opener were skewed due to TWO AND A HALF MEN introducing Ashton Kutcher before. So, it was not only obvious that the season two average of 2 BROKE GIRLS would be down, just because of the skewed numbers of the pilot, but down generally, because that’s how shows live on television (except you’re THE X-FILES, 24, ER, CSI, HOUSE M.D., or some other show I still need to discover).
CBS let the show live on on Mondays, where it was solid enough to never outright fall flat. Like the last few episodes of the first season, the first part of the second season had less than ten million viewers, but the viewership numbers would eventually rise, and deliver nearly 12.5 million viewers mid-season, a high that was reached last time in December 2011. But the viewership average of the season went down 12.4 percent, while the target demo took a bit of a bigger hit, tanking 21.5 percent. While a 12% loss of viewers can be survived easily, the disappearance of one fifth of the target audience was more worrisome. 2 BROKE GIRLS started with great numbers though, and the fall to oblivion was a long one. Yet, the show commenced falling with the second season, even if a 3.4 ratings average in the target demo in year two still looks quite golden.
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Look at the numbers of this show from 1991, and be astounded that shows like this were cancelled with numbers like these. WALTER & EMILY was close to getting a 20 percent share throughout its short-lived season, yet NBC was unhappy with the sitcom’s performance, and shitcanned it at the end of the season, albeit the network having given it a good-enough chance to find a bigger audience in late 1991/early 1992. Apparently Cloris Leachman and Brian Keith weren’t audience grabbers in the beginning of the final decade of the 20th century.
At this point in time, the show is pretty much forgotten and being fed dust somewhere in the ABC Studios archives (it was produced by then-Touchstone). Maybe people will try to remember the show during imminent Cloris Leachman eulogies (not wanting to sound like an asshole here, but she is an old woman, and at one point she is going to die), but there is pretty much no chance this 3-month piece of television history will ever see the light of day again – except of course someone on this planet finds old episodes on their VHS tapes. Because since Matthew Lawrence was involved in the project as well (and I know his face, even though I’m generally not interested in what the guy stars in), I might want to take a peek into WALTER & EMILY.
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Before there was HOUSE, M.D. as you know it, there was HOUSE, M.D. that wasn’t a ratings killer. When the show premiered in 2004, FOX most likely didn’t anticipate how the show would rise in the ratings and be in many mouths and in many top lists of the year. The show wasn’t a hit, because it started late in the 2004/2005 season. The show wasn’t a hit in the beginning, because FOX decided not to wait for AMERICAN IDOL to premier in January and pair HOUSE, M.D. with the singing competition from the beginning. The show wasn’t a hit, because the numbers might have been skewed, when it was finally aired out of Simon Cowell and his friendly judges telling hobby singers they might wanna take the ticket to go to Hollywood. HOUSE, M.D. became a hit, when it was 2005, and all of a sudden Americans were interested in the show, even though it already aired for two months.
The ratings in the target demo rose 100 percent in 2005, and even went up another close to 50 percent over the course of the second half of the season. It took two weeks to air out of AMERICAN IDOL to raise the viewership numbers to more than 100 percent as well, in addition to climb a couple more million throughout the rest of the season. And HOUSE, M.D. even managed to air its season finale with the highest numbers of the entire season. At the beginning, one might have thought the numbers were skewed. But at the end, it was evident that HOUSE, M.D. was able to carry itself, since the numbers were continuously rising, even for the finale. Generally speaking, it’s rare for a show to do that, even when it had a ratings killer of a lead-in program.
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Well, the numbers couldn’t rise continuously. At one point Hallmark’s Christmas movies under their yearly “Countdown to Christmas” banner had to sink, and it finally happened with CHRISTMAS INCORPORATED, a story about a man who inherits a toy factory in a small town, which needs to stay open to keep the town alive. But since this is an 83-minute movie, the man is obviously thinking about closing the store and ruining everyone’s Christmas. It turns out, the Christmas spirit, and a woman, keep him from destroying white people’s lives. CHRISTMAS INCORPORATED found its premiere airing on Sunday, November 15, 2015, and collected 3.161 million viewers, which was close to a half million viewers fewer than the previous day’s offering I’M NOT READY FOR CHRISTMAS. It was still considerable more successful with viewers than Hallmark’s first “Countdown to Christmas” movie ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR LOVE, which got close to 2.4 million viewers almost two months before Christmas (aka two weeks prior to this movie).
Among adults 18-49, CHRISTMAS INCORPORATED was strong though – with a 0.58, it was the highest-rated Christmas original of the season so far (beating out the previous week’s offering CHARMING CHRISTMAS), and with men older than 50, Hallmark was #1 again, if THE WALKING DEAD wouldn’t have aired (the movie delivered a 2.10), but it was down considerable, compared to any other Hallmark Christmas movie of the season, except ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR LOVE. The mystery of fluctuations between different demographics continue…
For three weeks, INTO THE BADLANDS had the opportunity to air its episodes out of the massive THE WALKING DEAD. nearly guaranteeing AMC-above-average ratings and viewership numbers, giving hope to the advertisers, because people keep watching their commercials even when THE WALKING DEAD is already over. When INTO THE BADLANDS lost its record-breaking lead-in, it was to be expected that the numbers would fall not only a little bit, but quite considerably. This is why the numbers for INTO THE BADLANDS are to be considered as skewed, and even after the first six episodes, nothing really can be said about the numbers. Especially not during the first three episodes, and somehow not during the last three episodes. A viewership of close to 2 million might have found the show and stuck with it, but compared to the numbers for BETTER CALL SAUL, INTO THE BADLANDS lost out. The numbers for the second half of the season were still above average for AMC, but it’s clear that three weeks of THE WALKING DEAD didn’t keep the five million viewers it brought to the screen at the beginning. Showing that THE WALKING DEAD is only good enough as a lead-in for following programs. The show itself can’t make fans out of its lead-out.
That was already proven during the first episode of INTO THE BADLANDS, when the ratings among adults 18-49 fell from a 3.93 in its first quarter hour to a 2.58 by its last quarter hour. That’s usually a drop only broadcast networks episodes see, when they tend to air right out of a massive lead-in (like the Super Bowl, maybe?). Anyway, the average numbers for the season are skewed, which probably means AMC will continue to air INTO THE BADLANDS out of one of their two monster shows (I still consider FEAR THE WALKING DEAD as one, though it really isn’t), just to carry the show and see if it might stand on its own through streaming, like BREAKING BAD did.
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The whites-only basic cable network Hallmark was in the middle of a roll when they started their 2015 Countdown to Christmas movie marathon. The ratings were constantly climbing over the course of three movies, and it was only a question of time until one of these 83-minute white romance stories would fall flat for the viewers. Well, I’M NOT READY FOR CHRISTMAS wasn’t that movie, and the numbers continued to climb. On November 14, 2015, at 8:00pm, 3.601 million viewers tuned in to see how Alicia Witt gets her white man for Christmas, and the large amount of people tuned in, because they most likely wanted to watch anything else than breaking news alerts.
The night before, the Paris terror attacks happened, and the news coverage brought a lot of viewers to CNN, giving a rise to fear some white Americans probably didn’t want to go to bed with. Among adults 18-49, I’M NOT READY FOR CHRISTMAS delivered a 0.47 rating (down 0.03 points compared to Hallmark’s last Christmas offering CHARMING CHRISTMAS, probably showing that most of the young audience was still following the news, or watched College Football). Among men older than 50, Hallmark broke above their average once more, delivering a rating of 2.67 (plus 0.36 compared to aforementioned Christmas offering). Through the entire demographics, Alicia Witt and George Stults managed to grab a great number of viewers, bringing Hallmark joy, and a couple more reason why they should never stop making movies with white people only.