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Ratings Five-Spot - Smash, The River, Person of Interest, The Walking Dead, Comic Book Men

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In case you missed my SpoilerTV post from last week, check out the big guide to January cable ratings! And here's the Ratings Five-Spot for the week ending February 12, 2012:

  • Smash - NBC got a great performance out of The Voice in its post-Super Bowl turn, and The Voice then turned that into a whooping 6.7 A18-49 rating in its Monday debut last week. Leading out of The Voice at 10:00 was the premiere of NBC's new drama Smash with 11.44 million viewers and a 3.8 demo rating. A 3.8 is a pretty big number for a drama premiere these days (only Once Upon a Time and Touch were bigger this season), and it's a really big number for an NBC drama premiere these days (their previous biggest this season was Grimm's 2.1). But because of just how huge its The Voice lead-in opened, I don't think it was unreasonable to expect even better from the heavily Super Bowl-promoted drama. And the overnight numbers have Smash down 26% in week two, so don't pencil this one in as a success just yet.
  • The River - Last Tuesday, ABC aired the two-hour premiere of new genre drama The River to fairly underwhelming results. Overall, it averaged 7.59 million viewers and a 2.4 demo. Even more alarming than the raw numbers had to be the trend throughout the telecast, as the show lost demo and total audience in each half hour. Those are definitely below-average premiere numbers, and even a typical 15% or so drop puts the show in fairly shaky territory. But if it settles at that 2.0 or so, it'd still be stronger than a lot of the stuff ABC throws on Tuesday between Dancing with the Stars seasons. Would that be good enough for renewal? Similar numbers weren't for last year's V. Stay tuned.
  • Person of Interest - One of the few broadcast shows that's been on the rise in the winter months has been CBS' Person of Interest. Its opening episode of 2012 (on January 12) pulled a new series high 3.2 demo, and it's gone 3.2 -> 3.3 -> 3.3 in three episodes since then. Three of those four episodes were also new series highs in total viewership, capped off with last week's 15.14 million viewers. What looked like a somewhat disappointing and marginal show for much of the fall now appears almost completely safe, and it's now doing better numbers than CSI in the same timeslot last year. And the interesting thing is that it may have thrown a wrench in what many presumed were CBS' inevitable plans to add a second hour to their Thursday comedy block. If this show keeps growing, will CBS really want to mess with it?
  • The Walking Dead - In season one, The Walking Dead arguably became the first basic cable drama to pull 18-49 numbers so good that most of the broadcast networks would be happy to have them. In the first half of season two, the show took one more step up; it became a legitimate broadcast-sized hit. Only four broadcast shows had a bigger fall average. What's the next step? Become bigger than the broadcast hits. And it looks like The Walking Dead may be on its way there. The show premiered on Sunday to a gigantic 8.10 million viewers, and about two thirds of those (5.4 million) were in the 18-49 demo. That added up to a 4.2 demo rating, which amazingly tied with NCIS as the biggest drama of the week, broadcast or cable. And this came despite facing the second-biggest telecast of the Grammy Awards ever. Astounding.
  • Comic Book Men - It wasn't all rosy for AMC on Sunday, as their first foray into reality TV took tremendous drops after The Walking Dead. Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men premiered to just 1.96 million viewers and a 1.0 demo. Both of those represent less than 25% retention of the Dead lead-in, some of the lowest figures you'll see. (For reference, a show that holds less than 25% of the Super Bowl, the biggest TV event of the year, is usually considered a disappointment.) But an interesting factoid about this Comic Book Men premiere is that it did something fellow AMC show Mad Men's never done in four seasons: break a 1.0 in the demo. That's not meant to be a compliment to Comic Book Men (and I'm sure Mad Men would break a 1.0 with that kind of lead-in), I'm just pointing out what an enormous gap there is between The Walking Dead and everything else on AMC.
For more in-depth TV ratings coverage every day, check out my blog at or follow me on Twitter: @spotupj.

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