Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Still viewers out there, if they are interested...

As we all know, TV viewership is way down, especially for the broadcast Networks. However, the recent ratings reveal that there are viewers still out there, if only there's something on they want to watch.

Admittedly, the numbers for even the top shows only equal mediocre ratings from the heydey of the Big Three Networks, but it's notable that the top two shows of the last two weeks run directly opposite each other. Since the beginning of the new season, Grey's Anatomy has beat CSI, then CSI (barely, but still) beat Grey's Anatomy. But the point is, the two largest audiences last week were watching two different shows running in the same timeslot. Not even counting ABC and Fox, an aggregate 47 million viewers were watching TV at this time on Sep 28th.

Thursday nights continue to hold good news for the networks. The number seven show that same night was Survivor, which ran against the week's number nine show, Ugly Betty. Together, the programs were watched by a combined 33 million people.

ABC must be pretty pleased. It's top ten shows that week, unlike CBS's mostly aging line-up (Survivor, CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York) are all either pretty new or brand spanking new (Grey's Anatomy, Desparate Housewives, Dancing with the Stars [editions of which help both the number four and eleven spots that week], Ugly Betty). CBS, meanwhile, is still strong. Aside from basically splitting the top ten shows, it was more dominent in the top 11-20 slots. However, I do notice that Lost isn't mentioned, so presumably that show hasn't started its new season yet, giving ABC yet another big, and newish, gun.

One-time ratings king NBC, meanwhile, only has Sunday Night Football in the top ten, along with two shows tied for number eighteen among the top twenty programs.


At 10:48 AM, Blogger Mike P said...

The only show I watch on the broadcast networks (other than reruns of "King of the Hill") is "Heroes". It's interesting enough to keep me coming back each week and actually care about what's happening.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Heroes is definately (as of a couple of weeks) one of the high-rated new shows this fall, generally landing around #20. Again, given that NBC is floundering a bit, that explains why the show has already been given a full season extension. (Although it should be noted that all three alien invasion shows last year started out strong.) Currently, Heroes is actually building on its Deal or No Deal lead-in, a good sign.

Conversely, despite the strong lead-in from Heroes and the expected rave critical response (critics being firmly in that niche Sorkin appeals to), Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip has seen its ratings fall every week. Over the first four episodes, its audience share has plummeted from 14 to 9, and it's Rating from 8.6 to 5.7. This week sees the sitcom version of Studio 60, Tina Fey's show (whatever it's titled) premiere. If that show's ratings are significantly better, Studio 60 will look all the worse.

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Jazzy said...

First of all, despite the deja-vu feelings, I kinda like "Studio 60...". Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford work VERY nicely together, with the occasional bon mot from Timothy Busfield, who is hillarious. However, yes, I agree, the show is not a "super-strong, must-see show" of any kind, but good enough (for me) to give it a few more weeks to find it's footing...

Secondly, the mentioned competetor to "Studio 60", "30 Rock", is, by all accounts, flopping hard.

Finally, I would like to put in a plug for "Ugly Betty", the best new sho of the year. For everyone who thinks this is trashy soap opera, well, ok, you're right. But it is really smart and well written soap, and America Ferrera is wonderful as Betty. Please give it a try, all!

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Hmm, well, 30 Rock hasn't premiered yet (I think that's tomorrow night), so I guess you mean the pre-season buzz is bad. If so, I'll be sorry, since I like Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin (as a SNL host, at least) and Tracy Morgan.

Studio 60 is, I think, an acquired taste. My problem is that all of Sorkin's 'tastes' are more or less the exact same. He certainly doesn't seem to have a lot of range.

Moreover, every time the "Christian Right" is mentioned on the show , which is often, it's like being in a timewarp. I've heard the CR mentioned more on S60 in parts of three episodes than I have in real life in the last 20 years. They might as well be constantly referencing John Birchers.

Lest I need to point it out, Fey and Baldwin are as liberal they as come, its just that I don't expect their show to shove it in my face every second, or attempt to foist off laughably bad 'conservative' characters for 'balance.' Of course, whether they do or not, the real question is whether the show will be funny.

At 1:49 PM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

(Note: rewritten, since Blogger sucks)

I find that since I watch TV in DVD sets, and not as it's broadcast, that I'm far more forgiving of shows than I would be if I had to wait a week between episodes.

If I watch a bad episode of Smallville, for example, hey, there's another one right after that, maybe they'll even each other out. Having to wait a few days would sour me on the show and I'd probably not watch anymore.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Yes, I had pretty much fallen out of the habit of watching TV on a by schedule basis, and thus became increasingly likely to miss episodes.

DVD allows me also to ignore newly started series, and thus to avoid starting to watch something that immediately gets cancelled. Pretty much any show that lasts a year or has a significant 'cult' audience is going to hit DVD.

Of course, watching shows in quick succession, rather than on a parcelled basis, alters the viewing experience, making season sets more like novels. This might be one reason more shows are adopting overarching story arcs. It's sort of the opposite of syndication, where the rule was that programs featuring stand alone episodes would sell best.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

_Ugly Betty_ and _Studio 60_ are both in the same boat with me...the shows themselves, thus far, have had pretty standard (read: predictable) plots that haven't been overly interesting for the most part; however, I have kept watching them due to the actors. Perry and Whitford, as mentioned before, are solid, as are a lot of the supporting cast. (I'm pretty much over the female lead's character, though.) And America Ferrera's a find--she perfectly walks the line between adorably and annoyingly nerdy, and is a delight. Vanessa Williams appears to be having the time of her life, hamming it up as the cartoonishly-wicked second-in-command at the office. The rest of the cast isn't as strong, but those two are a hoot. I'll probably give them the season, but the storylines need to get stronger.
I can only hope _Heroes_ avoids the fate of the "invasion" trio last year. Easily my favorite new show this year, but the good news is that the lady of the house, who has no interest in comics, also loves it. This gives me hope, as she had no interest in the three sci-fi shows last year, so hopefully this means a lot of people, comics fans or otherwise, will keep watching. I'd like to see where other seasons would go...this first one is definitely "Rising Stars" influenced, and I'd be interested to see if they continued to use real-life comics as inspiration, or struck out on their own.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Well, the general problems with the alien shows last year are pretty easy to name, and thus avoid, if the Heroes show runners are paying attention.

Invasion, from what I heard, moved too slowly. It had a story arc, but took too long getting along with it. One might term this Twin Peaks-itis, for the show that lost a huge percentage of fans when the first season came and went without solving Laura Palmer's death.

Threshold suffered from Generic Episode-itis, where every week the crew was fighting another manifestation of alien mischief. Given the gigantic implications of the alien menance in that one, they clearly should have let the invasion rip and gone off entirely in a sci-fi direction. Instead, they tried to keep the show grounded in the 'real world,' and that became increasingly inane.

Fathom, or whatever NBC's was called, moved (unlike Invasion), and dealt with the world-changing ramifications of its premise (unlike Threshold), but all its main characters were as annoying as hell.

So here, at least, are some obvious things Heroes can do to help keep itself on the air: Go with the implications of the superpowers thing and don't pretend the world won't change because of it; move the story along at a good pace (with, hopefully, a clearly defined destination in place); and make at least some of the protagonists likeable.

At 8:16 AM, Anonymous the rev. d.d. said...

I didn't ever see Threshold, so I can't comment. Surface indeed died because of its unlikable protaganists. I hated that kid especially. This one made me the angriest, because all the giant monster stuff was great, and I love me some giant monsters, but I don't think I was supposed to hope for the entire cast to get eaten.
Invasion was my favorite of the three, and the only one I was sorry to see go. I think it moved a little slowly, but not enough to really be a problem. The acting was great and I liked the storyline. Maybe I cut it slack 'cause I liked it...
So far Heroes seems to be avoiding those pitfalls. It's definitely not suffering from Generic Episode-itis yet, the story's moving along at a nice pace, and most of the main characters are likable (and the newly-introduced villian is a nasty one indeed.) I don't like Ali Larter's character, but I don't want to see her go because her superpower is easily the most bizarre. I'm still not sure what it is (I'm sure that's the point, though.)


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