We’ll say one thing for the out-of-touch and even more out-of-tune executives of broadcast TV. At least they aren’t giving up.
Now if they could only translate their eagerness to please into something more tangible like, oh, how about some better goddamn WRITING!?
by Michael Schneider
The sky is falling for network TV. Then again, the sky has been falling for decades — and yet, the broadcast networks are still here, despite all the gloom-and-doom prognosticators. But the first night of the new fall TV season was met mostly by a yawn from viewers, and will feed another cycle of the-networks-are-dying narratives.
Of course, there’s some truth to that. Just five years ago, NBC led the first night of premiere week (Sept. 23, 2013) with a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49, while ABC was in fourth with a 2.3 rating. This year, NBC led all networks on Monday night — with a 2.1, while fourth-place ABC landed with just a 1.2.
But on the positive front, the four major networks’ total viewer averages combined to 32.3 million on Monday night, up from 31.2 million on the first night of premiere week a year ago. And NBC launched new drama “Manifest” to a solid — hell, for 2018, a tremendous — 2.2 rating and 10.4 million viewers, making it the network’s most-watched drama series premiere in three years. And as has been pointed out, the night’s lowest-rated program, CBS’ “Bull,” still rated higher in the adults 18-49 demo than anything on cable that night (save, of course, ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which trumped all).
Most of the networks’ year-to-year viewership gains on Monday came from Fox’s decision to air the return of two scripted series on night one, “The Resident” and “9-1-1,” instead of last year’s much lower-rated “So You Think You Can Dance” finale. That boosted Fox’s viewership by nearly 4 million viewers vs. the same night last year.
Otherwise, Monday was a story of declines. (Well, except for the networks’ median age — that keeps rising, to over 60 years old). Returning hits like “The Big Bang Theory” (down 39 percent), “The Good Doctor” (down 41 percent), “Young Sheldon” (down 55 percent), “Dancing with the Stars” (down 29 percent), “The Voice” (down 23 percent) and “Bull” (down 31 percent) all slid double-digits vs. last year’s premieres.
Cause for concern? Yes. The steady reality of a business that is already changing its business model? Also, yes….