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Ratings Five-Spot - Pre-Premiere Week TV Ratings Storylines

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Hey there. My name's Ed and I've been writing the TV ratings blog for about two and a half years now. Starting this season, I'll be doing a "Ratings Five-Spot" post each week for SpoilerTV, breaking down the five biggest developments of the past week in the world of TV ratings.

We'll get our first ratings results from the new broadcast season a little later today, but I thought I'd get warmed up by looking back at the "pre-premiere week," when some of the shows premiere early to get a head start on the full-fledged competition. Here are the five big developments from last week:

  • CW's Premieres - As usual, the CW elected to premiere most of its new shows before the traditional broadcast premiere week begins. Last week saw the heavily hyped premieres of their new shows Ringer and The Secret Circle. So far... nothing too special either way. Here's how Ringer and The Secret Circle stack up among the last few seasons of CW drama premieres:
    A18-49 Viewers (Millions) W18-34 Date
    The Vampire Diaries 2.1 4.91 3.1 9/10/2009
    Nikita 1.4 3.570 1.8 9/9/2010
    The Secret Circle 1.3 3.048 1.9 9/15/2011
    Melrose Place 1.3 2.31 2.6 9/8/2009
    Hellcats 1.2 3.017 2.1 9/8/2010
    Ringer 1.2 2.840 1.6 9/13/2011
    Life Unexpected 1.2 2.83 2.5 1/18/2010
    The Beautiful Life: TBL 0.6 1.38 1.1 9/16/2009
    For now, about all we can say for sure is that neither of these shows is a breakout Vampire Diaries-type hit and neither is a The Beautiful Life: TBL-type flop. They joined most other recent premieres between a 1.2 and 1.4 in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. The end results for the other shows in that range has been mixed; Life Unexpected made it to season two and was cancelled, Nikita is soon to begin its second season, and Melrose Place and Hellcats each lasted just one season. The initial numbers were decent, not great, and we need to see more. They still have the Hart of Dixie premiere coming next week.
  • H8R - The CW also premiered new reality show H8R to just 1.29 million viewers and a 0.6 A18-49 rating. That's obviously a far cry from the above scripted premieres, although it actually is a little stronger than some of their recent reality flops. I still wouldn't count on this one being around much longer.
  • Up All Night - The first new premiere on one of the Big Four broadcast networks was NBC comedy Up All Night, which scored a 3.7 A18-49 rating and 10.95 million total viewers in its premiere telecast after the finale of America's Got Talent. The finale of Got Talent scored a 3.6 in the important demo, meaning Up All Night was actually the biggest program of the entire night. That was a very good start, better than most people expected. But this show's far from out of the woods. For one, said premiere took a large drop in its last fifteen minutes. Next week, things get much tougher as it moves to 8/7c and faces off with Survivor, The X Factor and a veteran comedy in The Middle. Conventional wisdom says it'll drop big. The key is going to be how much.
  • Free Agents - It was a much less promising start for NBC's other new comedy Free Agents, which managed just a 2.1 A18-49 rating and 6.12 million overall viewers airing at 10:30. That means it dropped by more than 40% in 18-49 from its Up All Night lead-in. Like Up All Night, it gets thrown into the gauntlet next week, and it's starting off with a much smaller audience.
  • Returning Show Roundup - A handful of veteran shows also began before the traditional premiere week. Those results were fairly mixed. Some did fine: 90210's 0.9 A18-49 rating was low, but at least it was even with last year's premiere. The Vampire Diaries' 1.5 A18-49 was down just a tenth, though it did drop more in the CW's target women 18-34 demo (from a 2.9 last year to a 2.3 this year). Some were a little unsettling: Survivor's 3.4 A18-49 was down by 15% from last year's premiere, and Parenthood's 2.2 rating was down 19%. Then there was the downright alarming America's Next Top Model, whose 0.9 A18-49 rating and 1.6 in the CW's target women 18-34 were each down well over 20%. If the drops continue, the end may not be too far away for that long-running reality show.
As I said above, there are tons of big premieres to come in the next week (including a bunch from last night). I have a feeling I won't have much trouble finding five things to talk about next week! Hope you'll join me.

For more in-depth TV ratings coverage every day, check out my blog at or follow me on Twitter: @spotupj.

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