Before we get started, let me just throw in one last plug for my Monthly Cable Ratings Guide, which made its SpoilerTV debut yesterday. I'm hoping it'll be a helpful way to review what's going on with cable each month. And, full disclosure: a couple of the Spots this week are lifted from that, since I'm talking about the same numbers.
Here's the Ratings Five-Spot for the week ending November 6, 2011:
- New Girl - Fox always has a bit of an adventure in the fall thanks to their coverage of the Major League Baseball playoffs. When they get a great matchup or (as this year) a long World Series, the ratings can be pretty stellar. But the downside is that they have to yank a lot of their regular programming off the air for most of October. This creates the possibility that people will forget about the shows over the hiatus.
- At least through one week, it looked like the impact may be even rougher than usual this year. All five programs on Monday and Tuesday (Terra Nova, House, Glee, New Girl, Raising Hope) came back down by at least 14% in 18-49 from their last originals. The first two shows also had to deal with Halloween night and rebounded to a large extent in last night's numbers. But the Tuesday drops may be the more concerning ones. Fox's New Girl was comfortably over a 4.0 demo before baseball and posted just a 3.6 in its return; Glee dropped from 3.6 to 3.0. They'd still be safe in terms of renewal at those levels, but tonight we'll see if they rebound or if baseball damaged the opportunity to build New Girl into a really big hit.
- Covert Affairs - Covert Affairs moved into the regular season fray for the first time last Tuesday. It posted series lows with 2.7 million viewers and a 1.0 A18-49 rating. Not that these are totally fair comparisons, but that's down by two tenths from last summer's premiere and down by almost 20% from last summer's average. USA dramas in the regular season have fairly mixed results. Summer-themed Royal Pains lost nearly a third of its demo from the previous summer when it aired last winter, but White Collar has held up almost completely in a regular season environment. Still early, but it looks right now like Covert Affairs is somewhere in the middle.
- Bones - Fox welcomed back their veteran drama Bones on Thursday, and it opened season seven with 10.00 million viewers and a 3.3 A18-49 rating. That's up by a lot over last fall's premiere, but those comparisons aren't too fair since the show aired at 8:00 and didn't have a big X Factor lead-in a year ago. However, Bones still rated a little higher than most of its early 2011 episodes. Viewing levels are higher now than they were in the spring, but the improvement is still pretty impressive considering Bones' lead-in back then was American Idol, which was always at least two full points bigger than Thursday's X Factor (and often much more). It was another good start for the always solid crime drama.
- Burn Notice - Burn Notice has traditionally been one of those USA shows that held up pretty well in the regular season, but its 2.86 million viewers and 1.0 A18-49 rating on Thursday were series lows. Those are both down huge - about a third - from last fall's premiere numbers. I don't think this is so much a "holding up in the regular season" issue as it is a "show getting older in general" issue. Burn Notice's numbers were tailing off toward the end of the summer as well. This once-huge show is just past its prime at this point, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see it grow a bit from the 1.0 as people realize it's back.
- Hell on Wheels - AMC got back into the original Western game for the first time since its 2006 Emmy-winning miniseries Broken Trail. Hell on Wheels became the first new show to take advantage of the huge lead-in from The Walking Dead, posting 4.36 million viewers and a 1.9 A18-49 rating. At least for one week, this show falls in the middle of what had been a huge AMC ratings gap between The Walking Dead (which got a 3.4 A18-49 on Sunday) and everything else (which rarely even eclipses a 1.0). Even with the big lead-in and the big drops from it, I'm sure this show will be fine for a renewal if it can stay anywhere close to these opening ratings.