Fall TV Ratings Update

There’s a nice reminder by Russell Davies that goes something like this:

“Don’t mistake something that’s growing as something that’s big, and don’t mistake something that’s shrinking as something that’s small.”

As one reviews the Fall TV season to date, this sentiment comes to mind. Three of the big four networks face ratings declines around 19%. The exception is NBC. They’re up 12% versus last year and this season marks the first time in ten years that the network has led the fall premiere schedule.

So what’s on TV this fall and how many are watching?

When it comes to audience size no one comes close to the NFL whose Sunday games often attract between 21 – 27 million viewers each. Furthermore, some of the HH share numbers for city teams during game time are astounding; when the Saints played the Chargers this year, San Diego recorded a 56 share while New Orleans reached an amazing 65 share.

Away from the gridiron, here’s a run down of some of the most talked about prime time shows with some liberally-rounded, per episode viewership numbers from a mid-October week:

The Big Bang Theory: 13.5 million

Dancing with the Stars: 13.5 million

The Voice: 13.0 million

Modern Family: 12.5 million

Two and a Half Men: 11.5 million

The Mentalist: 11.0 million

Elementary: 11.0 million

Castle:  11.0 million

Blue Bloods: 10.5 million

Survivor: 10.0 million

Revolution: 8.5 million

Nashville: 6.5 million

Including DVR Live+ to these figures can add between 20 – 40% for each show.  Grimm, a personal favorite, adds 55% more viewers which puts it around 8 million per episode.

It’s not all about Prime Time. Over at AMC The Walking Dead premiered with 7.2 million viewers making it the most watched cable drama telecast of all time. Zombies.

FX also did extremely well with American Horror Story which was the #2 ranked show in Wednesday Prime Time, behind Modern Family, among adults 18 – 34.

The range of these shows is an excellent reminder about the importance of writing. There’s no notable similarity between high-performing shows other than excellent writing.

Despite notable DVR numbers we still want to watch certain programming live. The NFL is an excellent example of this as is politics with each presidential debate attracting over 65 million viewers. And if a show is hyped well enough we want to catch it at first viewing: Vegas posted a huge premiere with nearly 15 million viewers. Some televised content we simply must see as it happens.

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John Drake
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