A Rough Road for Reality TV Stalwarts

Fox and ABC take hits as 'Dancing,' 'Idol' slump. The Jimmys prosper, but new girls hit a speedbump

The axoim what goes up must come down ” was certainly true this season for two of primetime’s heavyweight reality series.

American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars” qualify as two of this season’s biggest losers, but they aren’t alone.

On the other hand, it’s been a good season for Ellen DeGeneres, CBS News’ Scott Pelley, “Game of Thrones” and, of course, “The Big Bang Theory.”

Here’s a look at those who choked and those who smoked in the just-about-spent 2012-13 season:


American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars”:

This will go down as the year the Fox music contest came back to the pack — down 25% in adults 18-49 and 23% in total viewers on the heels of double-digit losses a year earlier. “Dancing,” meanwhile, has tumbled by 25% in the demo and 19% in total viewers.

NBC’s “The Voice” could be credited with contributing to the demise of both: “Dancing” has fallen off sharply since “The Voice” invaded its Monday turf, and there has to be some correlation between “Idol’s” decline and the rise of the shiny new music contest on the block.

Tuesday primetime for the Big Four

Try as they might, the major networks have been unable to make much of an impression on the night.

CBS still does well, and won Tuesdays again this season, but the combined regular-program average for the Big Four this season on the night (10.3) is well below that of Monday (12.6), Sunday (12.3), Thursday (12.2) or Wednesday (12.1).

There’s certainly an opening for somebody in the fall to tackle Tuesday.

Daytime doctors not named Phil

While No. 1 talker “Dr. Phil” has held steady or even gained a bit in key categories this season (averaging about 4 million viewers per episode), “Dr. Oz” has slid about 15% (to 3.1 million); after challenging Phil for the top talk spot last season, it’s fallen to fourth this year. And “The Doctors,” which was created by Dr. Phil McGraw, is off nearly 15% to 2.05 million viewers.

Sophomore Girls

The two biggest new comedies of last season — CBS’ “2 Broke Girls” and Fox’s “New Girl” — faltered in their soph seasons. “New Girl” has fallen off 22% for the year, while “Girls” has tumbled by 16%, but remains one of TV’s biggest half-hours.

Lead-ins still matter, and “New Girl” went from “Glee” last year to “Ben and Kate” this season, while “2 Broke Girls” played
for a while behind “Partners” instead of “How I Met Your Mother.”

TNT dramas

It’s a good thing the Turner cabler has big guns like “Fallen Skies” and “Rizzoli & Isles” ready to fire, because its 2013 dramas haven’t been big draws. “Dallas” was renewed for a third season, but it looked shaky airing in the broadcast season compared with its summer run last year. After closing its first season with an aud of 4.3 million, it wrapped season 2 with 2.8 million. Cop drama “Southland” drew 1.8 million for its finale, and David E. Kelley drama “Monday Mornings” was dead on arrival in January; both have been canceled.


“The Big Bang Theory”

It’s the No. 1 comedy not only in primetime for CBS, but also on cable for TBS as well as in syndication. Repeats of “Big Bang” are so big, and played so often on TBS, that the net has shot up to No. 1 among all cablers in adults 18-49. For CBS, the Thursday megahit crushed “American Idol” and is up 9% this season in 18-49, and 17% in total viewers.

“The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones”

If there’s anything as hot as “Big Bang” it’s these two shows, which are taking increasingly bigger slices of the young-adult pie on Sundays. “Dead” is the season’s No. 1 drama in 18-49 (broadcast or cable), peaking with a monster 6.4 demo rating for its finale. And “Thrones” has set new records in four straight weeks (up to 5.5 million viewers).

“CBS Evening News”

Long mired in third place, the newscast has shown some ratings sparks since Pelley took a seat behind the anchor’s desk. For the season, “Evening News” is the only newscast up vs. last year in the key adults 25-54 news demo. And in total viewers, it’s added about 500,000 viewers and now averages 6.8 million nightly.

Latenight Jimmys

ABC is pleased with the performance of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” since it moved to its earlier 11:35 p.m. slot; its 0.73 rating in 18-49 is better than David Letterman (0.68) and within striking distance of Jay Leno (0.81). And in the 18-34 half of the demo, “JKL” is tied with Leno.

Over at NBC, 12:35 a.m. host Jimmy Fallon is up 19% in adults 18-34 to a rating (0.44) just a bit below what Leno is doing an hour earlier (0.48) when many more people are watching TV. The Peacock likes Fallon’s youthful skew enough to proclaim him the next host of “Tonight.”

More TV

  • Billie Eilish 62nd Annual Grammy Awards,

    Grammys' Focus on Message Songs Meshes Well With Kobe-Mourning Mood: TV Review

    “It’s been a hell of a week,” said Alicia Keys, moments into her hosting gig on Sunday night’s Grammys telecast. “Damn! It’s a really serious one — real talk.” No kidding. Was this the first 99.9% joke-free Grammys, in the 62-year history of the telecast? Not that anyone should be complaining about that, exactly … not [...]

  • Feras Fayyad77th Annual Peabody Awards, Show,

    'The Cave' Director Feras Fayyad Finally Arrives in U.S. After Visa Troubles

    “The Cave” director Feras Fayyad has finally made it into the United States, weeks after he was denied entry into the country. According to National Geographic Documentary Films, which is behind the Oscar-nominated “The Cave,” “we can report that Feras arrived safely this evening in Los Angeles.” Fayyad’s arrival comes after he missed a Television [...]

  • I Sing the Body Electric

    'I Sing the Body Electric': How a 'Fame' Monster Was Reimagined for the Grammys

    Longtime Grammy telecast producer Ken Ehrlich has delivered his Grammy swan song (figuratively and literally), and it couldn’t have happened without … Walt Whitman. To usher out his 40-year era as the guiding light behind some of TV’s greatest musical moments, Ehrlich chose the song “I Sing the Body Electric” from the 1980 movie musical [...]

  • Kobe Bryant Staples Center memorial

    Kobe Bryant Mourners Gather Outside Staples Center to Remember Basketball Great

    Within hours of the news of Kobe Bryant’s death breaking, a fast-growing crowd of about two hundred people had gathered outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday to mourn the Lakers legend, who died earlier that day in a helicopter crash. Chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” broke out spontaneously outside of the sports [...]

  • Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile -

    Tanya Tucker Wins First Grammys, 47 Years After First Nomination

    Country music legend Tanya Tucker picked up her first two wins at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The 61-year-old singer won for best country song for “Bring My Flowers Now” and best country album for “While I’m Livin’.” “After 50 years in this business, I have a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content