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Cable Ratings Guide: Summer 2012 Wrap-Up

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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.

To make the transition from summer to fall, I'm doing another two-parter, this time dividing the posts by "summer" and "fall." In this first part, I'm recapping the end of summer seasons that had already started airing in the last edition two months ago, some of which just ended in the last couple weeks. In the second part, NOW ONLINE, I start from scratch with a look at all the fall seasons that have premiered since we last spoke.

Breaking Bad (AMC): One of the biggest stories of the late summer was the absolute breakout performance by the final season of Breaking Bad. The finale ratings didn't end up going all that high since it took place on Labor Day weekend, but they still slightly raised the season average to a 1.28 demo. That was up a whooping 58% on last season.

Hell on Wheels (AMC): But much like the Mad Men upswing didn't help The Killing earlier in the summer, the Breaking Bad breakout didn't really do anything for the sophomore run of Hell on Wheels. The show averaged about a 0.6 when it aired before Breaking Bad in August, then after BB ended it settled at more like a 0.5 on its own. It added up to a 0.55 average, which was down 39% from the season one average. And it was even significantly below the level at which it settled late in season one. However, it did do a little bit better than cancelled The Killing (0.48), and thus far there's no word on a season three.

Wilfred (FX): Despite a seemingly better timeslot with an Anger Management lead-in, it was definitely a sophomore slump season for Wilfred, which dropped by 26% in season two. It averaged a 0.55 demo but got as low as a 0.3 for the last couple weeks (after Anger Management was gone).

Louie (FX): The ratings for Louie followed Wilfred down the toilet toward the end, which each of the last three episodes falling shy of a 0.3! The season as a whole averaged a 0.40 demo, down by 18% from last year. The show has been renewed, but there will be a long gap between seasons three and four.

Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime): Drop Dead Diva ended up having a pretty strong season, hitting a season high 0.93 demo for its September 9 finale. That left the season average at 0.76, which was up by 5% on last season. It hasn't yet been renewed, but there aren't a lot of shows these days that grow year-to-year and get cancelled.

Army Wives (Lifetime): The Army Wives finale was right around the season average, which ended up at a 0.99 demo. That was down by 16% vs. last year's much shorter season, but Lifetime has pulled the trigger on a seventh season renewal for 13 episodes.

Awkward. (MTV): Awkward. picked up some major steam at the end of the season, breaking a 1.0 demo for the first time all year on August 23 and then hitting another season high with a 1.15 for the September 13 finale. The season average was a rock-solid 0.85 demo. While that was down 17% on last year's post-Teen Mom ratings, it was still a very easy renewal for MTV.

Warehouse 13: Though Warehouse 13 got a nice little bounce back up to a 0.6 demo for its October 1 finale, the normal level for the show was much lower. It ended up averaging a 0.55 demo for the summer; that was down by a large 28% from the summer 2011 run. That's a pretty disappointing set of ratings for this show, but it does have ten more episodes this season and they'll unspool starting in April. Beyond that? If this level continues in April, it's probably in pretty marginal territory now; it did noticeably worse than the winter/spring run of Being Human (0.66) and cheaper unscripted offerings like Face Off (which is hitting around a 0.8) and only a little better than Alphas and Haven.

Alphas: The move to 8:00 for Alphas was a benefit in the short term because it got the show away from Grimm, and it may have been a plus in the long term too since NBC eventually found another genre hit in the same hour with Revolution. Still, the show only averaged a 0.46 demo in its nine episodes at 8:00 (compared to a 0.49 for the first four eps at 10:00), leaving the show at a very underwhelming 0.47 average for the season. That was down by 30% from last year, an even larger percentage drop than Warehouse 13 took.

WWE Smackdown!: I'll hit the wrestling franchises in tomorrow's early fall edition too, but Smackdown! settled at right around a 0.80 demo in the last few Fridays of the summer. That was a bit better than its August ratings and close to its level from about a year ago.

Lost Girl: As I have said in previous editions, the Lost Girl move to Friday had no real impact on the ratings because it had a better lead-in with Smackdown! It had a nice spike to a 0.50 demo for the finale on September 14, its highest number yet on Friday. The 22-episode season as a whole (13 on Monday, 9 on Friday) averaged a 0.42 demo, just below the 0.45 season one average.

Sullivan & Son (TBS): TBS' second stab at a Thursday night sitcom ended up with a 0.90 demo average, which was less than a tenth worse than Men at Work from earlier in the summer. Both shows will return next year.
For Better or Worse (TBS): Following a couple really good weeks at the start of its summer run, For Better or Worse settled at somewhere between 0.5 and 0.6. The 24 episodes from July through the end of September averaged a 0.60 demo, still a decent number by Friday standards.

Major Crimes: TNT's The Closer spin-off took a bit of a hit as all the broadcast competition filed in on Monday nights. It occasionally hit a 1.0 in its opening weeks, settled well below that down the stretch, then spiked back to a 0.91 for the finale on October 15. The ten-episode season averaged a 0.88 demo, meaning it's definitely a little weaker than The Closer was even at the end. But it was still an easy renewal for season two.

Perception: TNT's other new crime drama of the summer seemed to have settled in the 0.7 to 0.8 vicinity but took a shot to 0.64 in its September 17 finale. Perhaps a chunk of its audience sampled the premiere of Revolution? Anyway, the season averaged a 0.76 demo. Tthe ratings were not that amazing, but it's coming back in 2013.

Leverage: The ten-episode summer run of Leverage averaged a 0.71 demo, down by a disappointing 22% from last summer. The ratings were basically identical in its 8:00 pre-Falling Skies run (0.72) and in its 9:00 run "on its own" (0.71). It returns for five more episodes at the end of 2012.

The Soul Man (TV Land): Since that promising premiere back in June, it was pretty much 0.3's all the way for The Soul Man, and the overall average for the 12-episode season was 0.32. Is that going to be enough for a renewal? I'm guessing yes considering the network's biggest previous hit Hot in Cleveland averaged a 0.34 last season.

The Exes (TV Land): The summer run of The Exes also hit a high on The Soul Man's premiere night and then dropped off to a consistent 0.28 average. That was actually a touch better than what it did in its winter run (0.27).

WWE Raw (USA): As with Smackdown! I'll update the regular season numbers for this show on the next edition. In September, Raw averaged a 1.47 demo, which was a little weaker than its 1.6ish August level.

White Collar (USA): The ten-episode summer run of White Collar actually perked up a bit toward the end and averaged a 0.99 demo. That was down 19% from last summer, but the show will return for a short run in early 2013 and then has been renewed for a full 16-episode fifth season in 2013-14.

Covert Affairs (USA): The summer struggles pretty much went from start to finish for Covert Affairs, which ended up dropping well behind Tuesday stablemate White Collar. It averaged a 0.87 demo, down by 30%. This show has clearly not become the big hit that appeared possible in season one, but it had a long way to fall; the numbers were still good enough for it to get a fourth season renewal similar to that of White Collar. More on the Covert fall results in the next edition.


For more, check out the previous cable guides here at SpoilerTV:
August part 1 | August part 2

September/October | November | December | January | February | March | April | May | June part 1 | June part 2 | July part 1 | July part 2

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

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