ABC's returning drama "Scandal" has done something that few -- if any -- new shows have done before: It finished the season with the most stable audience in all of network television.
The series, which stars Kerry Washington and Henry Ian Cusick, finished the season ranked No. 42 overall, but maintained its audience through its entire run. It topped all network television shows with an Audience Loyalty Index rating of 96.6, meaning that of all the people who tuned in to see at least one of the six episodes of "Scandal" this season, 97 percent of them returned for each of the following weeks.
That's unusual for new shows because they typically have a big premiere, but then a pretty sizable drop-off. For a show to get the attention of an audience, and develop a core from a vast majority of that audience -- it could mean a pretty long life (and some continued audience growth) for "Scandal" in the coming seasons.
Yet, "Scandal" was one of just a few highlights among new shows this season. Television networks put out 52 new shows for audiences to try, but only about 17 of them are returning (with the jury still out on three others). That means 35 new shows that made it through the pilot process and earned series pickups will serve just a one-and-out life.
The biggest casualty was "Unforgettable" on CBS, which was television's No. 2 new show (behind fellow CBS show "Person of Interest"), and finished just outside the top 10 overall. For whatever reasons, CBS decided not to move forward with that show, as well as the comedy "Rob," which finished tied for No. 3 among new shows, and was ranked No. 17 overall, tied with "2 Broke Girls."
CBS, however, had some great luck with its new shows, averaging a 6.3 rating/10 share, according to Fast National overnight ratings from The Nielsen Co. That's up nearly 11 percent from new shows on the network last year. Fox did even better, however, averaging a 3.9/6 for its new shows, up more than 18 percent from last year. Yet, six of its nine new shows will not return next year.
ABC was up a little more than 2 percent over last year in its new shows, but both The CW and NBC lost ground when it came to new programming. NBC averaged a 2.9/4, down a little more than 17 percent, while The CW managed only a 0.9/1, down 18 percent.
CBS won the season once again, and not only got support from new shows (including the ones not returning), but also some of its veteran programs as well. The network lost an average of less than 1 percent of its audience from its returning shows, bolstered by double-digit jumps from "The Big Bang Theory" (up 18 percent), "How I Met Your Mother" (up 12 percent) and "Rules of Engagement" (up 10 percent).
ABC had good control of its returning shows as well, losing on average just 7 percent of its audience. That was helped by a 37 percent audience gain for the comedy "Happy Endings" as well as a surprising 16 percent boost for the reality competition show "Shark Tank."
Fox, however, struggled when it came to returning shows. It lost an average of 24 percent of its audience from its veteran programs, including a 21 percent loss to "American Idol," 34 percent from "Glee," and 25 percent from "House." The network did not see a single returning show improve its audience over last year.
NBC had two gainers from last year -- "The Voice" (up 17 percent) and "Who Do You Think You Are" (up 2 percent). Yet, the network lost an average of 16 percent of its viewers from its returning shows.
The CW had an outing as bad as Fox. All of its returning shows had double-digit losses, except for "The Vampire Diaries," which lost just 7 percent. That pushed its average up to 24 percent.
"NCIS" finished on top of the ratings for the first time, despite finishing with an audience almost flat from last year. That's because both "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars" on ABC lost 21 percent and 13 percent of their audiences respectively from the previous year.
Also, television has a new No. 1 comedy, despite "Two and a Half Men" almost holding on thanks to its overhyped season premiere. "The Big Bang Theory" is now tops, finishing with an 8.8/15, compared to the 8.6/13 from "Men." In fact, next season, it might not even be close. If you remove "Men's" season premiere numbers, the show would've finished with an 8.3 household rating. Even more, "Men" averaged just a 7.1 household rating since the beginning of February sweeps, while "Big Bang" averaged an 8.8 during the same time.
Now that nearly all of the television shows from this season have learned their fate, we can say how well we predicted those fates back in the beginning of April. Unlike other observers, we broke down bubble shows as those likely to get picked up and those that were likely to get cancelled. Also, we did not update our predictions based on how ratings played out in April and early May.
With all that said, our prediction rate of bubble shows was just under 65 percent (11 of 17). Overall, when you also count the shows we felt were shoo-ins for renewal or definitely cancelled, our prediction rate went up to 76 percent (51 of 67). It might have been even higher if CBS had not announced a huge number of renewals ahead of our prediction, taking most of those shows out of the equation.
However, we did predict that both "Unforgettable" -- one of the top new shows of the season -- and "Harry's Law" (NBC's highest-rated scripted program) would return. We still think they should have.
Top Networks, 2011-12 Season
|5. (5)||The CW||1.1/2|
Top Network Shows, 2011-12 Season -- [Audience Loyalty Index]
|1. (1)||NCIS (CBS)||11.8/18||[92.7]|
|2. (2)||Dancing With the Stars (ABC)||10.4/16||[79.1]|
|3. (3)||American Idol (Fox)||10.1/16||[79.2]|
|4. (4)||NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)||9.7/15||[92.0]|
|5. (5)||The Big Bang Theory (CBS)||8.8/15||[91.2]|
|6. (6)||Two and a Half Men (CBS)||8.6/13||[53.4]|
|7. (7)||Person of Interest (CBS)||8.2/13||[84.1]|
|8. (8)||The Mentalist (CBS)||8.1/13||[91.2]|
|9. (9)||Criminal Minds (CBS)||7.9/12||[88.5]|
|10. (10)||The Voice (NBC)||7.5/11||[37.7]|
|11. (12)||Unforgettable (CBS)||7.2/12||[81.4]|
|11. (14)||CSI (CBS)||7.2/12||[80.3]|
|11. (16)||Castle (ABC)||7.2/12||[82.3]|
|14. (11)||Modern Family (ABC)||7.2/11||[84.7]|
|14. (13)||Mike & Molly (CBS)||7.2/11||[64.7]|
|16. (14)||Blue Bloods (CBS)||7.1/12||[91.1]|
|17. (17)||2 Broke Girls (CBS)||6.7/10||[58.8]|
|17. (19)||Rob (CBS)||6.7/10||[84.8]|
|19. (18)||Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)||6.6/11||[87.4]|
|20. (21)||CSI: Miami (CBS)||6.5/11||[90.0]|
Top New Shows, 2011-12 Season -- [ALI]
|1.||Person of Interest (CBS)||8.2/13||[84.1]|
|3.||2 Broke Girls (CBS)||6.7/10||[58.8]|
|5.||The X-Factor (Fox)||6.3/10||[84.5]|
|6.||A Gifted Man (CBS)||5.7/10||[90.5]|
|7.||Once Upon a Time (ABC)||5.7/9||[77.6]|
|8.||Last Man Standing (ABC)||5.3/8||[65.4]|
|9.||How to be a Gentleman (CBS)||5.2/9||[93.6]|
Most Stable Shows, 2011-12 Season -- [ALI]
|2.||How to be a Gentleman (CBS)||5.2/9||[93.6]|
|4.||Fashion Star (NBC)||3.0/5||[92.6]|
|5.||Shark Tank (ABC)||3.6/6||[92.5]|
|6.||CSI: New York (CBS)||6.3/11||[92.3]|
|8.||Work It (ABC)||3.5/6||[92.1]|
|9.||NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)||9.7/15||[92.0]|
|10.||The Big Bang Theory (CBS)||8.8/15||[91.2]|
|10.||The Mentalist (CBS)||8.1/13||[91.2]|
Least Stable Shows, 2011-12 Season -- [ALI]
|1.||The Voice (NBC)||7.5/11||[37.7]|
|2.||The Simpsons (Fox)||3.5/5||[39.4]|
|3.||You Deserve It (ABC)||2.9/4||[45.6]|
|4.||Pan Am (ABC)||3.7/6||[51.1]|
|5.||Off Their Rockers (NBC)||3.9/6||[52.4]|
Biggest Gainers, 2011-12 Season -- [% Increase]
|1.||Happy Endings (ABC)||4.0/6||[37.3]|
|2.||The Big Bang Theory (CBS)||8.8/15||[17.9]|
|3.||The Voice (NBC)||7.5/11||[17.2]|
|4.||Shark Tank (ABC)||3.6/6||[16.3]|
|5.||How I Met Your Mother (CBS)||5.9/9||[11.6]|
Biggest Losers, 2011-12 Season -- [% Decrease]
|1.||Breaking In (Fox)||1.9/3||[53.8]|
|4.||America's Next Top Model (CW)||1.0/2||[35.8]|
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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