[09/27/12 - 04:24 PM]
The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season, Part 4: Friday Night Is Indeed the "Death Slot"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

1) Only 32% of broadcast network shows make it to a second season.
2) Shows that premiere in September have the best chance of survival.
3) Scripted and unscripted shows fail at the same rate.
4) Friday night is indeed the "death slot."
5) 10 o'clock is just as successful as any other time period.
6) 5% of shows that are announced don't even air.
7) 4% of broadcast series have changed networks.
8) New shows on average lose 14% of their audience by episode two.
9) Cable dramas are almost twice as likely to return as broadcast ones.
10) History is on the side of the majority of this fall's new shows.

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

Welcome once again to "The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season," our recurring feature about, well... the 10 things you need to know about the new season. The goal of this venture is to address not only common questions people have about television but to also demystify (or potentially reaffirm) stigmas out there about certain networks, time periods, genres and so forth. It's been a few years so we'll revisit some of our previous research as well as dig into some new areas we haven't touched on before.

So with that in mind let us put on our journalistic caps and give you the cold, hard truth about what's potentially ahead for some of your favorite new and returning shows...

4. Friday night is indeed the "death slot."

It's an internet meme for good reason: new shows that are scheduled on Fridays have the longest odds of survival of any night of the week, just 19%. FOX for instance has renewed just one show launched on Fridays in the past 13 years ("Dollhouse") despite 23 tries. Meanwhile, Sundays have the best track record with 42% of new shows returning for a sophomore run. Said night has been golden for NBC the past 13 seasons (that's 1999-2000 through 2011-2012) with 69% of its shows returning.

By that same token, Mondays are likewise a boon for 40% of new shows - eight points ahead of the general 32% survival rate - with CBS bringing back 58% of its launches on the night. Conversely Saturdays (24%) are rarely programmed for good reason while Wednesdays (29%) are the only other night below the industry average. Take a look:

mon.9/29 (31%)14/24 (58%)8/33 (24%)18/44 (41%)6/8 (75%)1/4 (25%)2/4 (50%)58/146 (40%)
tue.14/51 (27%)9/18 (50%)12/26 (46%)13/45 (29%)3/22 (14%)5/8 (63%)4/10 (40%)60/180 (33%)
wed.22/65 (34%)8/23 (35%)14/40 (35%)7/34 (21%)2/11 (18%)3/11 (27%)1/13 (8%)57/197 (29%)
thu.9/34 (26%)4/16 (25%)7/17 (41%)11/35 (31%)1/2 (50%)5/14 (36%)2/3 (67%)39/121 (32%)
fri.4/23 (17%)7/24 (29%)1/23 (4%)4/20 (20%)0/5 (0%)5/16 (31%)0/0 (0%)21/111 (19%)
sat.1/2 (50%)3/9 (33%)0/1 (0%)0/5 (0%)0/0 (0%)0/0 (0%)0/0 (0%)4/17 (24%)
sun.10/20 (50%)3/12 (25%)7/21 (33%)11/16 (69%)0/0 (0%)5/13 (38%)1/7 (14%)37/89 (42%)
various*2/7 (29%)3/4 (75%)5/11 (45%)2/8 (25%)0/0 (0%)0/1 (0%)0/0 (0%)12/31 (39%)
total71/231 (31%)51/130 (39%)54/172 (31%)66/207 (32%)12/48 (25%)24/67 (36%)10/37 (27%)288/892 (32%)

* shows which aired in multiple time periods each week

What else do these numbers tell us? Wednesdays have been home to the most newcomers in the past 13 years (197 series) and yet it's among the least successful (29%) at producing second seasons. Other interesting trends: CBS is better at launching shows on Fridays (29%) than the traditionally bullish Sunday nights (25%) while FOX has had a rough go at it on Mondays (24%) despite being among Wednesday's (35%) top starters.

Overall, Tuesdays and Thursdays conform closest to standard 32% survival rate with Sundays and Mondays providing better odds and Wednesdays and Saturdays falling below the norm. Fridays, well... I hate to say it but: it's the death slot.

PREVIOUSLY: Scripted and unscripted shows fail at the same rate.

TOMORROW: Do shows at 10:00/9:00c have a tougher chance at survival?

  [september 2012]  

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