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Ratings Five-Spot - Alcatraz, Justified, Royal Pains, Archer, Grimm

Here's the Ratings Five-Spot for the week ending January 22, 2012:

  • Alcatraz - Fox's new drama Alcatraz got off to a pretty good start two Mondays ago, posting a little over 10 million viewers and a 3.3 A18-49 rating for its two-hour premiere. Impressively, that was a little better than some of Fox's other heavily hyped two-hour premieres, like Terra Nova (3.1 on September 26) and even Fringe (3.2 all the way back in fall 2008). That's an encouraging opening number, and the show held up throughout the broadcast pretty well. If it can settle at around where Terra Nova settled (low-2's), you'd think it would have a leg up on a renewal because it's certainly a less expensive show. Any better than that and it's a lock.
  • Justified, White Collar, Southland - The relative flexibility in scheduling on cable means there are usually not the kinds of multi-way season premiere bouts on cable that you often see on broadcast. But last Tuesday was an exception, as three of the biggest cable nets rolled out drama seasons on the same evening. So who won in the three-way battle between Justified, White Collar and Southland? In terms of the year-to-year trends, nobody. All three shows were down by double-digits from their year-ago premieres, and all three had their weakest premieres ever. It looks like there's a good reason why we don't see premiere smackdowns like this on cable too often. In the raw numbers, it was White Collar (3.23 million viewers, 1.1 demo) narrowly beating Justified (3.07 million, 1.0 demo), with Southland (1.76 million, 0.6 demo) lagging well behind.
  • Royal Pains - On the other hand, USA's Royal Pains premiered against relatively little cable competition, though all of the timeslot's broadcast dramas (CSI, Revenge and Law & Order: SVU) were original. But Royal Pains continues to be one of those summer shows that simply does not hold up in the regular season. It premiered on Wednesday to a mere 3.26 million viewers and 0.9 demo. That's down from its previous regular season premiere (1.1 demo on 1/20/11) but the more amazing thing is how far down it is from the summer ratings. Last summer, Royal Pains was actually USA's biggest drama (1.46 average) and never got lower than a 1.3. So a 0.9 premiere is fairly striking. I know there are reasons beyond ratings for splitting up seasons, as USA's Ted Linhart often insists, but maybe an actual summer-themed show really does belong only in the summer.
  • Archer - FX welcomed back animated series Archer for its third season on Thursday. It posted 1.31 million viewers and a 0.7 demo, down a little bit in viewers from last winter's premiere (1.51 million) but even in the A18-49 demo. FX then used the Archer lead-in to launch a new animated series, Unsupervised. It dropped significantly from its lead-in, finding just 856,000 viewers and a 0.5 demo rating.
  • Grimm - With CBS and the CW taking a Friday off from originals, a couple other networks benefited in a big way. As a huge fan of ABC's Shark Tank, I was happy to see that show premiere with its best Friday ratings yet. NBC also caught some of the updraft, as Chuck hit season high ratings (3.82 million, 1.1 demo) in its penultimate week on the air. More significantly (since it'll be around beyond next week) was the big rise from Grimm, whose 5.92 million viewers and 1.8 demo represented drastic increases from recent episodes. Both figures were the best since the show's second week on the air. I've been skeptical of Grimm's ability to hold up on the always difficult Friday night, and there was relatively little competition this week, but this is undoubtedly a pretty encouraging result. It's amazing that a Friday drama on NBC actually doubled the demo rating of Thursday newbie The Firm and slightly beat this week's Parenthood.
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