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Welcome to our Ratings Survival Guide, a handy new feature which takes each new fall series on the broadcast networks and tells you the numbers it will need to survive for a second season. In general, a show's success isn't so much where it lands on the weekly ratings chart but rather how it performs in two key categories:
1. How much of its lead-in audience it retains. If a show averages 10 million viewers that's a good thing. But if the show that airs before it is averaging 30 million viewers, that's not a good thing. Why? Because 20 of those 30 million viewers decided to turn off that particular channel when the next show came on.
2. How it performs year-to-year in its time period. A new show is usually in its time period because the network thinks it can do better than it did in that slot last year. In other words, do worse than the show that was canceled after three weeks last fall then you too probably are not long for this world.
As you'll see, together these measurements paint a clear picture on how a particular show is doing. So without further ado, let's begin.
(Fridays at 10:00/9:00c)
Fridays are tough to get a bead on at the Peacock. Believe it or not, just half an adults 18-49 ratings point separates NBC's most-watched ("Dateline NBC") and least-watched ("Crusoe") programs on the night for the past two seasons. In terms of scripted offerings, "Life" and "Law & Order's" final seasons finished on top - the latter not renewed for cost reasons, the former axed after returning to Wednesday nights. "Outlaw" then is tasked with outperforming failures like "America's Toughest Jobs" and "Crusoe," especially since it will follow the network's top draw "Dateline NBC."
"Outlaw" however has the added pressure of having to prove that it's worth airing over cheaper alternatives like NBC's various reality offerings ("Minute to Win It," we're looking at you) or even an extra hour of "Dateline" (NBC's frequent fallback position for the night). In other words, finishing in the top half of the 1.5 to 1.0 adults 18-49 ratings scale may not be enough.
Here's how NBC has fared on Friday nights the past two seasons (viewers are in millions, adults 18-49 is the percentage of said viewers in the demographic; all are based on fast national data, using only first-run episodes):
|fridays in 2008-2010||time||viewers|
|Dateline NBC: Season 19||9:00 PM||6.90|
|Life: Season 2||10:00 PM||5.50|
|Law & Order: Season 20||8:00 PM||7.37|
|Who Do You Think You Are?||8:00 PM||6.40|
|Dateline NBC: Season 18||9:00 PM||5.70|
|The Jay Leno Show||10:00 PM||5.37|
|Friday Night Lights: Season 3||9:00 PM||3.96|
|Law & Order: Season 19||8:00 PM||6.74|
|Howie Do It||8:00 PM||4.21|
|Lipstick Jungle: Season 2||9:00 PM||3.90|
|Deal or No Deal: Season 4||8:00 PM||5.77|
|Friday Night Lights: Season 4**||8:00 PM||3.94|
|Lipstick Jungle: Season 2||10:00 PM||3.40|
|America's Toughest Jobs||8:00 PM||3.60|
** includes only in-season airings (through 5/21/10)
COMING MONDAY: FOX's "Lone Star," NBC's "The Event" & "Chase" and CBS's "Mike & Molly" & "Hawaii Five-0"