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Ratings Five-Spot - Once Upon a Time, Hell On Wheels, Luck, Fear Factor, 2 Broke Girls

Here's the Ratings Five-Spot for the week ending December 11, 2011 (plus an extra day):

  • Once Upon a Time - One of the stories of late November and early December has been the continued drops from Once Upon a Time. The show was incredibly steady in its first four-week run, but since returning from hiatus, its A18-49 ratings have gone 3.4 -> 3.2 -> 2.9. This doesn't really "matter" yet in that a 2.9 is still a number that would comfortably get the show renewed, but it's certainly not good momentum as the show heads into a much longer hiatus. In early November, the show looked like a bonafide drama hit; now, it's hard to know exactly what to expect when it returns in January.
  • Hell On Wheels - Another lesson on the power of lead-ins: AMC's Hell On Wheels has fallen off a great deal in the last couple weeks since losing its The Walking Dead support. After posting a 1.2 A18-49 rating after the final two Dead episodes, Hell On Wheels has gotten just a 0.8 and a 0.6 since then. As with Once Upon a Time, it's not that the show is a total flop right now - this network renewed The Killing with exactly a 0.6 average, after all - it's that you can't really like the trajectory.
  • Luck - HBO's new horseracing drama Luck probably won't need a lot of ratings help to stay alive if the buzz is there, but it doesn't appear to be off to a good start. It got a special "preview" out of the finale of Boardwalk Empire on Sunday. While Boardwalk was above-average with 3.01 million viewers and a 1.3 A18-49 rating, Luck dropped to just 1.14 million and a 0.4. Can't like those big drops from the lead-in, but I would note that a lot of these "preview" ratings can be taken with a grain of salt. Back on April 3, HBO had a "preview" of their heavily-hyped Game of Thrones and averaged just a 0.2 demo. Then the show itself ended up averaging over a 1.0.
  • Fear Factor - In the last couple years, NBC has developed a rather unsettling tradition of doing better with its holiday season filler than with its regularly-scheduled programming. The latest example of that is their resurrection of early 2000s reality series Fear Factor, which posted 8.78 million viewers and a 3.3 A18-49 rating at 8:00 and 8.52 million viewers and a 3.5 demo at 9:00. How big are these numbers by NBC standards? The 9:00 episode currently ties as the third-biggest episode of entertainment (that is, non-sports) programming NBC has aired all season, trailing just the premieres of Up All Night and The Office. If these numbers hold up, NBC has a program that will be tough to resist using as more than just winter filler.
  • 2 Broke Girls - CBS used the mid-December slow times to give their new hit comedy 2 Broke Girls a shot leading off their big Monday comedy lineup. How it did is a matter of perspective. The bad news: the show hit a series low in the lead-off position with just a 4.2 A18-49 rating, and it did worse in the demo than most of the ratings posted by How I Met Your Mother in the same timeslot this season. Good news? Well, a 4.2 is a 4.2, and that still makes the show one of TV's biggest. 2 Broke Girls appears more than capable of leading off an hour on its own. And if CBS is looking to expand their comedy presence next season, this show will certainly be a prime candidate to anchor an hour. A lot of it will probably come down to how many years are left in their Monday "old guard" of Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother.
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