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Stats Spotlight - March Ratings Madness - Castle / Scandal / NCIS / TBBT + More

(Check out my TV ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com)

March is normally a tough month for most network series. It's the time of year where the gaps between episodes begin to appear as networks try to stretch the final half dozen new episodes of a series across around 10 weeks in anticipation of their season finales in mid May. Let's run through a few shows to see where they are sitting when compared to March 2013.

I tossed a coin, and CBS's NCIS won, so here's where we begin. NCIS has aired 3 episodes this March, as it did last year, and has done consistently since 2007/08, except for the 2011/12 season. Last March, the series 3 episodes averaged a 3.26 adults 18-49 rating and 19.74 million viewers. Those three episodes sat pretty close to the season ratings average of 3.35 and audience average of 19.28 million viewers.

This March, things have been a bit different. No episode broke the 3.0 ratings mark, which is unorthodox to say the least, considering that prior to this season, no March episode has rated lower than 3.0 that I have data for. For the record, my data goes back to 2008. The three March episodes this year have averaged a 2.50 rating and 17.33 million viewers, which is down on the season's rating average to date of 2.93, and 19.01 million viewers.

Jumping networks to ABC now, more specifically Scandal, which has been in terrific form this season. Comparisons to previous seasons are a bit tricky here, because all three seasons vary dramatically in lengths, season 1 had no episodes in March, and season 2 only had one. However, the 4 episodes that have aired this March have combined to average a 2.90 rating and 8.71 million viewers. The season to date is sitting at a 3.04 average rating and 9.01 million viewers. For comparison's sake, the single March episode of Scandal last season earned a 2.7 rating and 8.51 million viewers.

Let's jump networks again, to NBC, where James Spader's The Blacklist continues its stellar ratings run. The Blacklist has aired a new episode on all but one Monday night this March to date, with one still due on March 31. The three episodes that have aired have been separated by a mere 0.1 ratings point and 210,000 viewers, which means they average a combined 2.73 rating and 10.93 million viewers. I'm predicting a rating and audience measurement in line with, if not greater, tomorrow night, thanks to the absence of Castle on ABC, and the lackluster competition provided by CBS's season (series?) finale of Intelligence.

Speaking of ABC and Castle, let's have a look and see how it's been tracking. Historically, Castle normally airs 2 episodes in the last 2 weeks of March. This trend has remained the same since season 2 until this season, where 3 episodes of the crime drama starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic have aired this March. The news isn't overly positive though, with all three episodes sitting well below the 2.0 ratings mark, where, like NCIS, no previous March episode has rated before this March. A new series low rating chose a good time to turn up. That came on the first Monday of March, where Castle hasn't aired an episode since season 1.

In its defense, the lead-in was a repeat, instead of the traditional Dancing With The Stars, which normally starts in mid March, explaining why ABC normally don't air any Castle episodes earlier than that. This is rather unusual scheduling by ABC, who only aired one episode less in February than normal thanks to the Winter Olympics, but decided to air that extra episode in early March instead of sticking it after Dancing With The Stars a couple of weeks later. I'll leave you to ponder that logic for yourself. Before you die wondering, Castle's March averages this year are a 1.73 rating and 9.38 million viewers, compared to last March's 2.15 rating and 10.92 million viewers.

The only FOX show I'll mention here is The Following, merely because it's the only FOX show that is remotely worth talking about with regard to ratings at the moment. Like pretty much all FOX shows currently, the ratings aren't flash. Last March, an episode each Monday night netted an average 2.58 rating and 7.74 million viewers. This March there happens to be 5 Mondays, so after 4 out of 5 episodes this March, The Following is enjoying a ratings average of 1.48, and audience average of 4.51 million viewers. For those who want a percentage figure, take a 42.6% decrease in ratings and 41.7% decrease in audience, year on year. But who cares! The Following will be returning next year. I'd say the ratings won't be worth following though.

Switching back to NBC, let's have a look at Revolution. Much like Scandal, Revolution had a single March episode in its freshman season last year, thanks to a scheduling decision which I still hold partly responsible for killing the series' ratings. Nevertheless, that sole March episode last year, which you could say was its midseason premiere, garnered a 2.6 rating and 7.03 million viewers. The two episodes this March actually combine to equal the total rating of that single March episode last year - in other words, they both earned a 1.3 rating and averaged 4.70 million viewers. That's a 50% ratings drop, and 33.1% audience drop. Yes, both seasons have shared different timeslots, but the comparison is still somewhat valid, if not entertaining, in my book.

Moving to the top of the alphabet, or ABC in other words, Grey's Anatomy has had a tough year, with some blame sitting at the feet of poorly performing lead-ins. You'd be forgiven for theorizing that ABC must use a four sided dice to work out how many March episodes they'll air - only once in 10 seasons has a March of one year had the same number of episodes in it as the March prior. If you're dying to know where the one anomaly occurred, it was the March's in 2009 and 2010 that shared 3 episodes each.

This season, thanks to the trialed split season scheduling, this March has seen 4 episodes air. Compared to other ABC series and other network series, Grey's Anatomy rates strongly and consistently, though it hasn't escaped the March lows that other shows I've mentioned have suffered. All the March episodes this season have garnered ratings below the 3.0 mark, making them the third, fourth, fifth and sixth March episodes to do so in its 10 season on air. The first two happened to occur last March, where the three episodes in total averaged a 2.9 rating and 8.87 million viewers.

This season, thanks in part to another conveniently timed series low rating and audience, Grey's Anatomy's March ratings average sits at 2.48 and audience average at 8.02 million viewers. So on the whole, half a ratings point and the better part of a million viewer decrease isn't too bad, especially when you compare Grey's Anatomy to, say, The Following.

I'll end this somewhat negative article with a comedy, in the for of the United Independent Broadcasters' The Big Bang Theory. If you thought "wait a second, that's not right," you are indeed correct. United Independent Broadcasters was CBS's original name, way back in 1927, according to Wikipedia. Anyhow, The Big Bang Theory traditionally airs 2 episodes in March, normally with a gap between them, though this wasn't the case in March 2013 or this year, because both episodes aired back to back. The Big Bang Theory is network television's highest rated scripted series, with this season averaging a 5.24 rating and 18.16 million viewers after 18 episodes. This March, the two episodes combined to average a 5.1 rating and 17.72 million viewers. That's an increase on last March's 5.15 rating and 16.77 million viewers.

That's a good place to leave it! Remember you can find load more about all the ratings for the shows I've mentioned in this post on my website, www.seriesmonitor.com. You can also follow me on Twitter using the button below for more ratings related bits and pieces. Don't forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks a lot for reading!

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, The Blacklist, The 100, and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.

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