The television networks put a lot of expectations in all their shows. But if you're a new show, you better come out the gate fast and hard, or your race will end far quickly than anything else.
In the 2010-11 television season, the five networks trotted out 45 new programs for viewers to see -- that's 40 percent of the overall schedule. We got to see everything from the return of Tom Selleck and William Shatner, to some other big names like Kathy Bates and Michael Imperioli.
Yet, of all the big names I just listed, only two will be back next season. That's because of the 45 new shows offered by the networks this year, only 12 will return for a sophomore season.
That's right, 12. A dozen.
We're talking about three shows each from ABC, CBS and Fox. We're talking two from NBC. And we're talking just one from The CW.
That's an amazing statistic considering NBC had 13 new shows this year, ABC 11, and both CBS and Fox with nine. In fact, if you look at percentages, The CW was actually a winner, returning one-third of its schedule (the network debuted only three new shows this year).
So what happened? Is it hard for new shows to find audiences, or are networks simply missing the boat on what fans are expecting?
CBS probably was the most harsh of all the networks. Half of the top 10 new shows were from that network, yet even of those, only three survived. Getting cut were shows like Shatner's "$#*! My Dad Says" and the spinoff "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior."
Both of those shows, for instance, averaged a 6.3 rating/11 share, according to Fast National overnight ratings from The Nielsen Co., through April. That's better than the overall network averages for everyone except CBS. Yet it wasn't enough for CBS, which will once again dominate the ratings landscape and finish the year television's most-watched network.
"The Defenders" was another one that likely would've made it if it were getting the same numbers for any other network. That show, starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell, finished with a 5.8/10 after jumping around the schedule a bit. That was good enough to be ranked in the top 35 overall, but not good enough to remain on CBS' schedule.
When it's all broken down, CBS didn't renew a single show that wasn't in the top 20 overall. It's lowest-rated renewal, "Hawaii Five-0," was No. 16 overall through the end of April.
Those are levels other networks can't even consider. Only NBC was able to renew a freshman show in the top 20, and that was "The Voice" (at least as of April 30). ABC's top new show was No. 27 while Fox was No. 30. The CW's "Nikita," the only new show coming back for that network, was ranked No. 106 overall.
There should be a high bar set for shows on networks, especially with cable moving in hard. But is there still room for some patience?
Many shows considered iconic now would've never made it in today's market. Not because audience mentalities have changed -- but network mentalities have. It's a word of perform now, and perform big -- or forget about it.
Think about shows like "M*A*S*H," "Seinfeld," "Cheers" and "Happy Days." Believe it or not, these shows began their lives outside of the top 20. Hell, most of them started outside the top 30. And these were days when there were only four or even three networks, and far fewer shows -- so being below 30 meant you already were on the lower percentile.
Yet each of these shows' respective networks picked them up. And they were rewarded quickly.
At the same time, television has changed a lot. There is a lot of competition, especially from cable. There is time-shifting through DVR and online viewing. If a show can't build a buzz from the beginning, chances are, it never will. And networks simply don't have the resources to take huge chances on shows like they did in the past.
But some shows are getting some love. Fox did that with "Raising Hope," despite the fact it was ranked No. 65 overall. The same is true for "Happy Endings" from ABC, ranked No. 68.
And next year will be the same. Some shows will come out the chute with buzz and numbers, while others will stumble out, and not get much of anywhere.
That's when we have to say, welcome to television!
Top New Returning Shows (Overall) Through End of April -- [ALI]
|1.||Body of Proof - ABC (11)||7.6/12||[83.9]|
|2.||Mike & Molly - CBS (13)||7.1/11||[88.6]|
|3.||Blue Bloods - CBS (15)||7.0/13||[89.2]|
|4.||Hawaii Five-0 - CBS (16)||7.0/12||[66.7]|
|5.||The Voice - NBC (19)||6.8/11||[95.8]|
|6.||Secret Millionaire - ABC (27)||6.3/10||[84.7]|
|7.||Mobbed - Fox (30)||6.2/10||[NA]|
|8.||Harry's Law - NBC (33)||5.9/10||[84.8]|
|9.||Raising Hope - Fox (65)||3.7/6||[72.1]|
|10.||Happy Endings - ABC (68)||3.5/6||[73.6]|
Top New Departing Shows (Overall) Through End of April -- [ALI]
|1.||$#*! My Dad Says - CBS (27)||6.3/10||[83.6]|
|2.||Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior - CBS (29)||6.2/11||[77.8]|
|3.||The Defenders - CBS (34)||5.8/10||[76.9]|
|4.||Law & Order: Los Angeles - NBC (42)||4.9/8||[73.3]|
|5.||Breaking In - Fox (45)||4.7/8||[92.6]|
|6.||Detroit 1-8-7 - ABC (47)||4.5/8||[68.6]|
|7.||Chicago Code - Fox (48)||4.5/7||[78.4]|
|8.||Live To Dance - CBS (49)||4.4/7||[68.2]|
|9.||Better With You - ABC (51)||4.3/7||[57.3]|
|10.||Mad Love - CBS (54)||4.2/7||[77.4]|
Fast Nationals usually provide a snapshot of what Americans are watching by pulling numbers from the top urban markets that include both live viewing and same-day timeshifted viewing. A rating point generally represents more than 1.1 million households while the share indicates the percentage of televisions turned on that was tuned to the specific program. These numbers typically shift when final ratings are issued.
Data collected from The Nielsen Co., as distributed by Zap2it. GenreNexus tracks non-news, non-event programming, and figures for this story reflect airing of new episodes only. For more information on the Audience Loyalty Index, click here.
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