I'm back with another monthly look at the cable TV landscape! As always, I'll note that I mostly traffic in adults 18-49 ratings below. (That's always what I mean by "demo.") However, these should be taken with some grain of salt. I use A18-49 ratings because of availability and because they're a reasonable way of making comparisons across networks, but be advised that it is not necessarily the be-all-end-all number it is on broadcast. Not all of these networks target that demographic specifically. For the regular readers, shows that just began a season in this edition are in blue.
Please let me know if there are any shows of interest that I'm missing out on!
The Walking Dead (AMC): Another ceiling-shattering half-season of The Walking Dead came to an end a week ago. This time, the accomplishment was that Dead outrated every other entertainment program on TV, broadcast or cable. That's a stunning achievement when you consider that the biggest basic cable programs have really only been pulling "broadcast-worthy" numbers for about two or three years. The eight-episode fall run averaged a 5.32 demo, which was up by an amazing 56% on last fall.
After-show Talking Dead aired at 11:00, an hour after the end of The Walking Dead, and averaged a 1.09 demo, exactly double its average from last fall when it was still airing at midnight. Talking Dead will expand to an hour and air right after TWD at 10:00 in the spring.
Tosh.0 (Comedy Central): While Tosh.0 remains a solid and probably pretty inexpensive option for Comedy Central, it's definitely lost a lot of steam in the last year. Its 1.29 demo average through ten fall episodes is down by 26% year-to-year. But it did do a little better in November than in the previous episodes this fall.
Brickleberry (Comedy Central): The Tosh.0 average actually ticked up a bit in November, but Daniel Tosh's animated creation Brickleberry continues to fade. Its average is now at a 0.79, or only a little over 60% of its Tosh.0 lead-in.
South Park (Comedy Central): The last two episodes of South Park pulled a fairly typical 1.1 and 1.2 demo rating, leaving the seven-episode fall average at a 1.13 demo. That's down by the exact same amount as Tosh.0: 26%.
Monday Night Football (ESPN): As the NFL season winds down, so do the NFL ratings, and ESPN's Monday Night Football is no exception. Aside from a couple great games, the ESPN franchise has generally been somewhere in the 4.0's in the demo lately. The season average through 14 games is a 5.29 demo, down 2% from last season.
American Horror Story: After a sizzling start to the American Horror Story season, it's ended up settling down at a ratings level about on par or even below last season. Throw in a really low-rated Thanksgiving Eve episode and the show is actually down 5% year-to-year, a far cry from the opening couple weeks when it was up about 30%. But it's averaging a still very solid 1.52 demo.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: On the other hand, It's Always Sunny started off in horrible shape year-to-year (-45% through three weeks) and has gotten better... but not by much. It's still down a whooping 35% from last fall and averaging a modest 0.71 demo.
The League: Like in October, The League hasn't dropped off nearly as much as Sunny on a percentage basis. But being down 17% still isn't great. It's now averaging a 0.55 demo through eight episodes.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO): The arrival of The Walking Dead in Boardwalk Empire's timeslot did no favors for HBO's third-year drama. What looked like a show that had steadied at around a 0.9 prior to the return of Dead ended up as more of a 0.7 to 0.8 show in the back half of the season. It all added up to a 0.82 demo average, down by 27% from last season.
Jersey Shore (MTV): I talked last time about the beginning of the end of the Jersey Shore phenomenon. And MTV's decision to end the show after this season still looks like a really good one. By week two of this season, Jersey Shore had already shed about half of its audience from the end of the previous season, and that mid-1's level has become the new normal for a show that averaged over a 4.0 for a season just two years ago! The year-to-year comparisons have remained dreadful; aside from the premiere, each data point has been down over 50%. Through nine episodes, the show is averaging a 1.60, down by 60% from last year!
Thursday Night Football (NFL Network): The longer run of Thursday Night Football appeared to pay off in a big way early in the season, when breaking a 3.0 every week appeared realistic. But in November, as other football ratings declined, so did the Thursday nighters, and a low-2's level was more typical. The twelve games are now averaging a 2.49 demo, up by just 7% vs. last year's seven-week run.
Dexter (Showtime): Just last year, HBO's Boardwalk Empire was decisively beating its head-to-head Showtime competitor Dexter. Two years ago, the gap was nearly twice as big. But this year, the tables have totally turned on that matchup, as Dexter has been the higher-rated show every single week. It's averaging a 1.10 demo through ten episodes, up an impressive 19% year-to-year.
Homeland (Showtime): But the real coming out party for showtime has been sophomore Emmy winner Homeland. Though one might have expected a big bounce from the Emmy wins, it turns out the September 30 season premiere (0.75 demo) is actually the second lowest-rated point of the season to date. It's only built from there, peaking with a series high 0.97 on December 2. It's averaging a 0.81 demo through ten episodes, good for a massive +84% from last fall.
WWE Smackdown! (Syfy): They Syfy wrestling franchise has had something of a soft fall, lingering between 0.7 and 0.8 most weeks. It's down more than 20% from what it was doing at this time a year ago (when it was lingering between 0.9 and 1.0).
Haven (Syfy): Since the last post, Haven has scored a fourth season renewal. It's averaging a 0.44 demo (down 16% year-to-year) through ten episodes in the post-Smackdown timeslot. That leaves Alphas as the big question mark on Syfy. The 0.47 average from its summer/fall season was a bit better than that of Haven, and it had much smaller lead-ins yet a higher-viewed night than Haven.
Wedding Band (TBS): When a network like TBS schedules a show for Saturday night, you pretty much know that they don't have a lot of hope for it. While Wedding Band has posted what look like superficially pretty decent numbers for Saturday (a 0.62 average through four episodes), the show's also had some great lead-ins (1.0+ The Big Bang Theory reruns). Overall, I doubt this performance will be enough to change TBS' mind on the show.
Rizzoli & Isles (TNT): The late-fall run for Rizzoli & Isles began on November 29 with a 0.8 demo, and it grew to 0.9 in week two. Those two episodes are about even with the first two of last year's regular season run. I would imagine it'll end up a little down (since Rizzoli grew a lot at the end of last year's run) but they're still solid numbers for TNT in the regular season.
Leverage (TNT): On the other hand, it may be time to legitimately question whether the end is nearing for Leverage. Not that Rizzoli & Isles is exactly the optimal pairing for this show, but it's managed just a 0.5 demo in each of its first two episodes, a pretty soft number for a TNT drama. That's down 22% from the first two of last year's winter run. The Leverage creator has said that the season finale could serve as a series finale, which suggests he may be seeing the writing on the wall.
Hot in Cleveland (TV Land): The return of Hot in Cleveland looked pretty solid by that show's recent standards, pulling in 1.7 million viewers and a 0.39 demo, numbers that were ahead of last year's averages. However, it took a big week two drop to a 0.26 demo. Through the first two episodes, it's down 7% year-to-year.
Happily Divorced (TV Land): The first two Happily Divorced episodes this season posted a 0.31 demo and a 0.26 demo (with the latter marking full Hot in Cleveland retention). Through two episodes, it's down 15% from last year.
Covert Affairs: Though Covert Affairs held onto its summer audience nicely in the opening weeks of its fall run, much of that audience fell away down the stretch. And the show really struggled in an ill-fated Election Night episode (series low 0.51 demo). The six-episode fall run ended up with a 0.69 demo average, down 20% year-to-year. But that's still a smaller drop than it took in the summer, and it's been renewed for season four.
Burn Notice: Long-running Burn Notice was actually one of USA's more stable returning shows last summer, and that trend has continued into its fall episodes. The five fall episodes (counting the two-hour premiere twice) have averaged a 0.99 demo. That's impressively only 1% below the 1.00 average of last fall's episodes. It's been renewed for a shorter (13-episode) seventh season.
For more, check out the previous cable guides here at SpoilerTV:
Late Summer 2012 | Early Fall 2012
Check out the previous Cable Guides dating back to September 2011 on the Cable Guide label!
For more in-depth TV ratings coverage every day, check out my blog at SpottedRatings.com or follow me on Twitter: @spotupj.