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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.
THE DEFENDERS (CBS)
(Wednesdays at 10:00/9:00c)
"Defenders," much like "Hawaii Five-0," has the uphill battle of replacing a veteran drama, in this case "CSI: NY." During the 2008-09 season, "CSI: NY" held onto an impressive 96% of lead-in "Criminal Minds." That number fell to a still solid 86% this past season, meaning that kind of retention would put "Defenders" (or any other freshman series) at rock star status. Nevertheless, a new show filling such a tight gap isn't going to be expected by CBS so a slightly longer leash may be at work on this one.
Here's how CBS has fared on Wednesday 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):
|wednesdays in 2008-2010||time||viewers|
|Criminal Minds: Season 4||9:00 PM||14.45|
|Criminal Minds: Season 5||9:00 PM||13.51|
|CSI: NY - Season 5||10:00 PM||13.04|
|CSI: NY - Season 6||10:00 PM||12.56|
|Gary Unmarried: Season 2||8:30 PM||6.94|
|Gary Unmarried: Season 1||8:30 PM||7.06|
|Old Christine: Season 4||8:00 PM||7.09|
|Old Christine: Season 5||8:00 PM||7.01|
|Accidentally on Purpose||8:30 PM||5.86|
** includes only first-run, in-season airings in the specified time period
COMING TOMORROW: ABC's "My Generation," CBS's "Bleep My Dad Says" and NBC's "Outsourced."