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Welcome to The Futon's Ratings Survival Guide, our annual 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.
UP ALL NIGHT & FREE AGENTS (NBC)
(Wednesdays at 8:00/7:00c & 8:30/7:30c)
It's been five years since NBC aired comedies on Wednesday nights: in 2006, the Peacock kicked off its Wednesday lineup with the Jeffrey Tambor/John Lithgow-vehicle "20 Good Years" and the then "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"-overshadowed "30 Rock." After four weeks, "20 Good Years" got the axe and "30 Rock" was shipped off to Thursdays - alongside "Scrubs" - in place of the second weekly edition of "Deal or No Deal." The return to half-hours on the night comes after a string of drama misses, including the high-profile "Undercovers" this past fall. If "Up All Night" and "Free Agents" fall short of said numbers, expect the cancellation clock to tick rather quickly.
Here's how NBC has fared on Wednesday nights the past two seasons:*
|wednesdays in 2009-2011||time||viewers|
|Law & Order: SVU - Season 11||10:00 PM||9.03|
|Law & Order: SVU - Season 11||9:00 PM||8.43|
|Law & Order: SVU - Season 12||10:00 PM||8.34|
|Law & Order: SVU - Season 12||9:00 PM||8.66|
|Law & Order: Los Angeles||10:00 PM||8.18|
|The Jay Leno Show||10:00 PM||5.60|
|Minute to Win It (1/5/11-5/18/11)||8:00 PM||4.14|
* 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 in its regular time period.
COMING TOMORROW: The CW's "The Secret Circle."