Most b'cast comedies, dramas losing ratings steam this summer
Original episodes of scripted favorites can’t come soon enough for the broadcast nets, which have seen significant ratings declines this summer for key veteran comedies and dramas.
In recent years the nets gave up trying to rerun serialized shows like “24” and “Desperate Housewives” in the summer, but still hoped to recoup advertising coin by repeating laffers and procedural dramas. Now, for the most part, even these aren’t performing all that well.
The Eye’s Monday comedy anchor “Two and a Half Men,” which started losing audience for its repeats in the spring when Charlie Sheen’s departure cut the season short, has seen its demo declines for encores accelerate this summer.
While CBS remains competitive demo-wise in the summer months with a sked comprised of “Big Brother” and mostly repeats, it may have to look at bolstering its reality output in years to come because its scripted skeins are wilting in the heat.
Part of the reason for “Men’s” 37% tumble in adults 18-49 this summer (1.5 vs. 2.4, according to Nielsen) may be that it lost skedmate “The Big Bang Theory,” which shifted to its new Thursday home and is off a steep 32% itself (1.9 vs. 2.8). Other CBS comedies, “How I Met Your Mother” (down 24%) and “Rules of Engagement” (down 17%), have also fallen off.
At NBC, “30 Rock” and “Community” are both down more than 20% this summer, while their Thursday skedmates “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” have limited their declines to between 10% to 15%.
Fox and ABC are holding up better, with the former’s Sunday animated laffers down all down about 10% vs. last year. The Alphabet’s “Modern Family,” the biggest 2010-11 in-season riser, is one of the few scripted gainers this summer, up a tick (1.7 vs. 1.6), while the net’s “The Middle” is down just a tick (1.1 vs. 1.2).
On the drama side, veterans down by 20% or more include CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” CBS’ “CSI: Miami” (in part due to a new timeslot) and Fox’s “House,” while NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” is off by 18%.
And original scripted fare hasn’t exactly been a tonic. The few new original scripted shows like ABC’s “Combat Hospital” and NBC’s “Love Bites” posted predictably soft numbers, while returning dramas “Flashpoint” on CBS and “Rookie Blue” on ABC are down by double-digits.
Fortunately for the broadcasters, reality shows like NBC’s top-rated “America’s Got Talent” and CBS’ “Big Brother” are having strong summers, up 18% and 15%, respectively. And fresh episodes of primetime’s biggest scripted hits will be returning in about a month.
Last week in primetime, Fox, rang up a demo victory behind its core summer reality contests like top-5 performer “Hell’s Kitchen” (2.8/9 in 18-49), and “So You Think You Can Dance,” which finished its season on an upswing (2.0/6).
The net’s week ended on a quiet note, though, with soft premiere scores for sketch comedy series “In the Flow with Affion Crockett” (1.0/3 in 18-49 for its second of two half-hours).
Fox’s 1.8 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 for the week was followed by CBS and Univision (both at 1.4/4), ABC (1.3/4) and NBC (1.2/4).
CBS, which won in total viewers for a sixth straight week, saw “Big Brother” again win all three of its timeslots — led by Wednesday’s hour (2.8/9 in 18-49, 7.39m).
ABC welcomed back “Bachelor Pad” to solid numbers (2.3/6, 7.00m), but Friday newbie “Karaoke Battle USA” hit the wrong ratings notes in its debut (0.9/3, 3.74m).
USA dominated the cable pack in demos, as the season finales of “White Collar” (1.5/4, 4.30m) and “Covert Affairs” (1.4/4, 4.70m) delivered season highs.
Elsewhere, MTV’s “Jersey Shore” (3.7/12 in 18-49, 7.37m) fell off from its record-setting premiere of the previous week but still ruled as primetime’s No. 1 series in 18-49.
ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth” had a strong finish to its season (1.3/4 in 18-49, 2.8/8 in females 12-34, 2.84m) and became the summer’s top new scripted show among viewers 12-34. Food Network’s “Food Network Star” had a strong finale Sunday (1.5/4 in 18-49, 4.23m), standing as the night’s No. 1 ad-supported cable program in adults 25-54 (1.6/4). And on the same night, History’s “Ice Road Truckers” hit season highs (1.2/3, 3.44m) and “Top Gear” achieved some series highs (0.9/2, 2.23m).
VH1’s season finale of “Basketball Wives” (1.3/4, 2.60m) on Monday became the net’s top-rated telecast in more than two years, with the show drawing 4.6 million if you add its repeat later that night.
Also of note: Fox News drew 5.05 million for its Republican presidential debate on Thursday and was cable’s No. 2 ad-supported cable network for the week in total viewers; pay cabler Cinemax (available in roughly 16.7 million homes) drew 567,000 viewers for the Friday preem of its first primetime original series, “Strike Back,” and 1.1 million combined for its three airings that night; and Style’s docu-drama “Tia & Tamera” drew 751,000 viewers Monday, the most for a series launch in net history.