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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.
WHITNEY & PRIME SUSPECT (NBC)
(Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c & 10:00/9:00c)
After two years of experimenting on Thursday nights - from six comedies to "Leno" to reality offerings, tonight marks the return of NBC's traditional lineup of four comedies and a drama to cap the night. Newcomer "Whitney" then is tasked with the post-"Office" slot, most recently occupied by "Parks & Recreation" (74% retention rate), which in turn slides to 8:30/7:30c. Fellow newbie "Prime Suspect" closes the evening at 10:00/9:00c, where the Peacock's best performance in recent years has come from "The Marriage Ref" (2.34 rating among adults 18-49).
Here's how NBC has fared on Thursday nights the past two seasons:*
|thursdays in 2009-2011||time||viewers|
|The Office: Season 6||9:00 PM||7.65|
|The Office: Season 7||9:00 PM||7.30|
|Community: Season 1||9:30 PM||6.29|
|30 Rock: Season 4||9:30 PM||5.94|
|Parks & Recreation: Season 3||9:30 PM||5.04|
|30 Rock: Season 5||8:30 PM||5.48|
|The Marriage Ref: Season 1||10:00 PM||5.47|
|30 Rock: Season 5||10:00 PM||4.56|
|Community: Season 1||8:00 PM||5.02|
|Parks & Recreation: Season 2||8:30 PM||4.69|
|SNL Weekend Update Thursday||8:00 PM||5.16|
|Community: Season 2||8:00 PM||4.27|
|The Jay Leno Show||10:00 PM||4.98|
|Perfect Couples||8:30 PM||3.05|
|The Apprentice: Season 10||10:00 PM||3.88|
|The Paul Reiser Show||8:30 PM||2.93|
|100 Questions**||8:30 PM||2.14|
|Love Bites**||10:00 PM||2.09|
* 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.
** denotes summer series added for additional perspective
COMING TOMORROW: CBS's "A Gifted Man."