Crime procedurals beat out serialized dramas in repeat ratings

Crime absolutely pays when it comes to distributing dramas.

For years now, syndicating hourlongs to TV stations has been a weakening proposition. Serialized dramas — think “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” or even an action thriller like “24” — don’t repeat well, especially when the show plays only on weekends. Increasingly, subscription video on demand (SVOD) providers such as Netflix and Amazon are where the money’s at for shows that tell an ongoing story.

Hourlong procedurals, however, still play well wherever they air, and for that reason, cable networks pay high prices to strip them, often keeping them out of broadcasters’ hands other than for weekend plays.

Looking at the weekend shows, the leader is CBS Television Distribution’s “Criminal Minds” at a 3.0 same-day household rating season to date. The show is down a bit (9%) year to year, but overall, playing well on TV stations.

Following “Criminal Minds” are a slew of other procedurals: NBCUniversal’s “Law & Order” (2.9), and NBCU’s “Monk” (2.5), helped by its primetime play on News Corp.-owned My Network TV, where it airs in double-runs on Friday nights.

That’s also true for Warner Bros.’ “Without a Trace,” which aired on TNT before the network was forced to take a write-down on the show due to ratings too low to cover the cost of its pricey cash license fee. “Without a Trace” lives on in broadcast syndication, however, averaging a 2.4, and also airing on My Network TV in double-runs on Thursday nights.

Warner Bros.’ “The Closer” ties with NBCU’s “Law & Order: SVU” for fifth place, with each show at a 2.3. “L&O: SVU” also has a berth on My Net, airing there on Monday nights.

Disney-ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” the first show on the list with no crime element — and primetime’s top-rated drama among young adults — doesn’t show up until 10th, averaging a 1.6. That’s followed by NBCU’s “House,” at a 1.4, which is ending its primetime network run on Fox this month.

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