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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.
(Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c)
"30 Rock" has kept the post-"The Office" slot warm in recent years, retaining 77.36% of said lead-in this past season. That's certainly a good target for "Outsourced" as it's obviously a number NBC has grown accustomed to. It's however not unprecedented for a new show to come in and perform better here: "Community" held 81.72% of "The Office's" lead-in during its initial three-week window (before moving to the 8:00/7:00c slot), while "SNL Weekend Update," during its blockbuster election coverage in 2008, actually built from "The Office's" audience. Nevertheless with the 10:00/9:00c hour already having sprung a leak with "The Apprentice," drawing "30 Rock"-esque numbers should certainly keep the cancellation clock from ticking.
Here's how NBC has fared on Thursday 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):
|thursdays in 2008-2010||time||viewers|
|SNL Weekend Update 2008||9:30 PM||9.50|
|The Office: Season 5||9:00 PM||8.34|
|The Office: Season 6||9:00 PM||7.65|
|30 Rock: Season 3||9:30 PM||6.87|
|ER: Season 15**||10:00 PM||8.63|
|Community: Season 1||9:30 PM||6.29|
|30 Rock: Season 4||9:30 PM||5.94|
|My Name Is Earl||8:00 PM||6.15|
|Southland: Season 1||10:00 PM||7.43|
|Parks & Recreation: Season 1||8:30 PM||5.38|
|The Marriage Ref: Season 1||10:00 PM||5.47|
|Kath & Kim||8:30 PM||5.07|
|Community: Season 1||8:00 PM||5.02|
|Parks & Recreation: Season 2||8:30 PM||4.69|
|SNL Weekend Update 2009||8:00 PM||5.16|
|The Jay Leno Show||10:00 PM||4.98|
** includes only first-run, in-season airings in the specified time period
COMING TOMORROW: CBS's "Blue Bloods" and FOX's "The Good Guys."