After three weeks of the 2012-13 television season, here's what clear and uncertain about the still-fresh bushel of new series, and the broadcast networks running them.
CBS: The armor of broadcast TV's top network has suffered two scratches in its armor, thanks to the sub-par and super sub-par ratings for newcomers Partnersand Made In Jersey, respectively. Both new series managed to take down Monday and Friday night viewership in general.Made In Jerseywas found guilty and cancelled last week, and Partners may be gone by the end of this week if ratings don't turn up. On the flip side, Elementaryand Vegas are so far the most-viewed new series at any broadcast net, landing in Nielsen's top 20 series ratings. On the bubble: nothing.
NBC: Heading into week four, Revolution is the only new series at this network with a shot at rookie success. However, this drama is third place in its time period among households while being head-to-head withCastle and Hawaii Five-O for key demographic viewership. The big question: will Revolution and its futuristic premise stop bleeding viewers and stabilize, or are we in for a replay of The Event two years ago (great ratings at the start; awful by spring 2011)? As for the network's big new comedy push on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the results are mixed. Go Onand The New Normaldid well enough to be picked up for a full season, but Animal Practice and Guys With Kids are in trouble. Of the two, Animal Practice and that adorable chimp may be the first to go, again as early as this week. On the bubble: Guys With Kids.
ABC: Holds the honor of the most acclaimed new series so far in Nashville, and the stunning viewer downer so far in666 Park Avenue. After one episode, Nashville has the critics' ear and Connie Britton's portrait of a country music superstar at the crossroads has best actress Emmy buzz. We'll see if the viewer's fall in line starting this week. On the other end, 666 Park Avenue has many critics in its corner, but viewers are rejecting the premise in a big way. 666 may beat other newbies as the second chopped series following Made In Jersey. On the bubble: Last Resort
Fox: The Mob Doctoris Fox's candidate for the early-to-go chopping block, due to mass rejection of its dramatic premise and tone. Among critics, The Mindy Project is taking praise as the best new comedy series of the year, while Ben & Kate is no darling. So far, both sitcoms are stuck in rating neutral land, but Fox has given both a full season order, trusting viewers will either get wise to the critics, or get wise and DVR them all over. Get ready for The Mob Doctor to be whacked this week. On the bubble: nothing.
The CW: Thanks to holding off their new series premieres until last week, this network has nothing on either the block or the bubble. Indeed, CW, which some industry observers suggest may be headed to a date with the executioner, thanks to an awful past season and summer performance, can be saved if last week's sparkling debuts of Arrow andBeauty and The Beast hold up. Both were the highest-rated episodes on this network in years. Are we in for the broadcast network comeback story of 2012-13? Keep watching.
As for overall broadcast network performance:
Primetime viewership is down by as much as 10 percent from this point last season, an alarming result so early on. You might chalk it up to more aggressive original content from the cable networks, including a full Thursday night football season on NFL Network to Lifetime's Steel Magnolias movie, the new wild-card baseball playoff and Presidential debate coverage. Coming up: a new season of AMC's The Walking Dead, first-run Burn Notice and Covert Affairs episodes for USA, new Disney Channel and Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite series and History Channel's The Men Who Built America. Chalk some of the erosion as well to more people using smart TV sets to watch original Web content and sites--this may be the long-term development to monitor the rest of this decade.
Where's all the furor over DVRs as arch enemy of TV series? More than a few new series owe their lives to post-time period viewing off those recorders. Now the talk is over how many DVR owners must watch individual series up to a week after their network broadcast to stay afloat. Big shift of attitude here.
The Spanish-language TV movement continues where it left off last season. Univision (and often Telemundo) beats The CW on most nights in total households, and comes close, ties or beats the fourth-place English-language network (ABC, NBC or Fox). Beyond households, Univision's demo performance regularly breaks the top three. Makes you wonder why a huge number of national advertisers in line to be on Spanish-language or Latino TV channels regularly continue sidelined. What's up with that?
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!
Simon Applebaum is host/producer ofTomorrow Will Be Televised, the Internet radio-distributed program all about TV, running live Mondays and Fridays on BlogTalk Radio--and soon to premiere as a weekly series on the new UBC-TV (UB for Urban Broadcasting) network. Replays of recent episodes are available at www.blogtalkradio.com/simonapple04. Have a question or comment? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the new Twitter hashtag @UBCSimonTWBT.
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