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Fox and NBC Share Sluggish Saturday Leadership

Cleveland at Chicago on NBA Basketball on ABC Left at the Starting Gate

What follows are the fast affiliate results for Saturday, April 9 broken out by network and by each half-hour:

-Total Viewers:

NBC: 4.07 million, Fox: 3.96, CBS: 3.82, ABC: 1.83

-Adults 18-49:

Fox: 0.8 rating/3 share, NBC: 0.7/ 3, CBS: 0.6/ 2, ABC: 0.5/ 2

———-

8:00 p.m.

ABC – NBA Countdown
Viewers: 1.56 million (#4), A18-49: 0.4/ 2 (#4)

CBS – Hawaii Five-O (R)
Viewers: 3.26 million (#3), A18-49: 0.6/ 2 (#2t)

NBC – Law & Order: SVU (R)
Viewers: 3.88 million (#1), A18-49: 0.6/ 3 (#2t)

Fox – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Viewers: 3.85 million (#2), A18-49: 0.8.3/ 3 (#1)

———-

8:30 p.m.

ABC – NBA Basketball: Cleveland at Chicago
Viewers: 1.55 million (#4), A18-49: 0.4/ 2 (#4)

CBS – Hawaii Five-O (R)
Viewers: 3.31 million (#3), A18-49: 0.5/ 2 (#3)

NBC – Law & Order: SVU (R)
Viewers: 4.42 million (#1), A18-49: 0.7/ 3 (#1t)

Fox – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Viewers: 3.67 million (#2), A18-49: 0.7/ 3 (#1t)

———-

9:00 p.m.

ABC – NBA Basketball: Cleveland at Chicago
Viewers: 1.81 million (#4), A18-49: 0.5/ 2 (#3t)

CBS – Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (R)
Viewers: 3.08 million (#3), A18-49: 0.5/ 2 (#3t)

NBC – Law & Order: SVU (R)
Viewers: 5.09 million (#1), A18-49: 0.8/ 3 (#1)

Fox – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Viewers: 3.58 million (#2), A18-49: 0.7/ 3 (#2)

———-

9:30 p.m.

ABC – NBA Basketball: Cleveland at Chicago
Viewers: 1.66 million (#4), A18-49: 0.5/ 2 (#3t)

CBS – Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (R)
Viewers: 3.11 million (#3), A18-49: 0.5/ 2 (#3t)

NBC – Law & Order: SVU (R)
Viewers: 5.32 million (#1), A18-49: 0.9/ 3 (#2)

Fox – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Viewers: 4.73 million (#2), A18-49: 1.0/ 4 (#1)

———-

10:00 p.m.

ABC – NBA Basketball: Cleveland at Chicago
Viewers: 1.84 million (#3), A18-49: 0.5/ 2 (#3)

CBS – 48 Hours
Viewers: 4.74 million (#1), A18-49: 0.8/ 3 (#1)

NBC – Dateline (R)
Viewers: 3.02 million (#2), A18-49: 0.7/ 2 (#2)

———

10:30 p.m.

ABC – NBA Basketball: Cleveland at Chicago
Viewers: 2.57 million (#3), A18-49: 0.8/ 3 (#2)

CBS – 48 Hours
Viewers: 5.41 million (#1), A18-49: 0.9/ 3 (#1)

NBC – Dateline (R)
Viewers: 2.72 million (#2), A18-49: 0.7/ 3 (#2)

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman

Marc Berman has been writing professionally since 1999 and is the author of weekly column “Mr. Television” for Campaign US (www.campaignlive.com). Most recently, Berman was the creator and Editor-in-Chief of website and newsletter TV Media Insights for Cross MediaWorks. From 1999-2011, he was the Senior Editor for Mediaweek and has also written for The New York Daily News, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Emmy Magazine, among others. Berman has also appeared on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” “Access Hollywood,” “Inside Edition,” “The CBS Evening News,” E!, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

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  1. You can tell with the lift at 10:30pm that the NBA competition from the Warriors/Grizzlies game on ESPN affected the ABC game. NBA Playoffs start on Saturday afternoon and the NHL’s on Wednesday.

    • I wonder if ABC affiliates were happy about this. Couldn’t they switched the two? The Bulls are a bad team.

      • They probably aren’t since ESPN chose to put the more higher-rated game on their network instead of cable. At least there was an uptick at 10:30pm before the local news started. If they run into problem again next season they need to make sure they’ll be able to flex out games and not have ESPN compete directly against ABC in that slot.

        • The way Disney has been choosing to boost ESPN at the expense of the supposed flagship has always befuddled me a bit.

            • Sorry for the late response. 🙂

              My understanding is that they figured they’d make more money by being able to force every cable subscriber to fork over $6-7 a month for the privilege of having ESPN on, but the damage to ABC certainly has been huge, especially given their inability to create hit shows.

              I looked at old ratings lists and it’s amazing to see that way back when Football rarely made the Top 20 shows of the year (they were also counting ratings from October to April, which avoided the misleading premiere and finale ratings).

              To me it’s another sign that it’s the quality of scripted shows that has collapsed as sports programming is subject to the same pressures as scripted shows.

              • I was actually just talking about the ratings 20 years ago with somebody else when we were talking about the evolution of Sunday Night Football when it was airing on cable back then and how SNF is now #1 every year because everybody’s elses ratings are lower now.

                Non-football programming typically took over the top 20 ratings lists because television programs back then used to get better ratings for football or the same ratings you can’t say that about any program today at all. Not even NCIS comes that close anymore except if you compare it to Thursday Night Football.

                I said this a few years ago on a different site but football has stood out a lot more in the past 5-10 years due to the fact that everything else around it has gone down so drastically.

                Back to ABC and Disney, I’m glad me and you agree on how wrong Disney has been to value ESPN or Disney Channel as well over ABC. ABC doesn’t even have its own sports division like NBC, CBS, and FOX have. ABC could totally use Monday Night Football right now and I believe they could’ve challenged NBC better on getting the Olympics if they weren’t ran by Disney.

                I know you’ll agree with this but I think ABC really needs to get away from Disney and go back to operating their own network separate from ESPN because if they don’t ABC will never recover. Then you’ve got the whole Kelly & Michael debacle with Good Morning America, when does it end for these guys?

                • Thanks for the response 🙂

                  It’s funny we were thinking along the same lines.

                  I think you’re totally right about Football emerging just by dint of not sinking like the rest of TV 9especially scripted!)

                  The same thing happened to Law and Order back when (since you’re a fan of Dick Wolf you may remember that). It was almost canceled after season 4 and saw its budget slashed to get to the all-important (at the time) 100 episodes and then started seeing the NBC schedule collapse rapidly around it to the point that it became one of their (relative) hits.

                  I was looking at the book Total Television by Alex McNeil, which, in the days before the internet, was a treasure trove of information (and really still is!)

                  Sometimes it’s striking looking through it to see how things have changed (and the waves of “all drama” then “all comedy” based on the success of a few shows.)

                  Did they scream at you when you pointed that out? Because that’s seriously anathema opinion!! 😉

                  You’re preaching to the choir on the benefits of having the studios separate from the networks.

                  The government handed over the networks to the studios (as well as the indy TV sector) under the false idea that it would allow the sector to continue thriving in spite of cable’s competition.

                  While this boosted the studios’ bottom line for a while, the insider dealing aspect of the industry is one of the main reasons why so few good shows are made today.

                  When a Steven J. Cannell had to sell his shows to CBS or ABC, he had to sell them based on quality and audience drawing ability. Today, being buddies with an executive is the ticket to a green light and a seven year run (or more!!) regardless of results.

                  Unsurprisingly, competition and needing to excel drew US TV to heights of quality and getting rid of the results-driven formula (through the abrogation of FinSyn regulations) has yielded disaster.

                  • You see Rena me and you are a lot alike when it comes to television and how it should be constructed, we’ll disagree with things at times especially when it comes to my acceptance of mediocre ratings but we both agree that once the networks started the push to make programs based on demographics that’s when the low ratings truly started coming in.

                    Football was always a high-rated player but its just sticking out more because of the decline in the ratings landscape.

                    When L&O almost got cancelled, NBC was a much stronger network and L&O was nowhere near as valuable as it ended up becoming in the next decade. There was a lot more dramas back then that were like L&O that were rating better too. L&O benefited more from its syndication value overtime and that’s what NBC is trying to do right now with the Chicago franchise on a much lesser scale.

                    The studios make good money off of these networks but the government should’ve never allowed that to happen as it ruined the networks and their ratings. When networks were on their own they were a lot better and much more fun and the competition between each other was way better.

                    Your Stephen J. Cannell is a really great example that backs up this argument because you can clearly see back in his time it was more about quality and audience drawing ability.

                    That’s what television has been lacking in the past 10 years once they went to this dumb demo driven system because when the networks focus on overall audience and audience drawing ability we had much more quality shows getting on air and getting higher ratings.

                    What’s interesting is that this model still goes on in most countries today but it’s the U.S. that has changed so much and has declined severely. There was a dude recently this week on a different site who said in England it’s all about the old system and the ratings have not declined too much over there. Also Saturday night TV is still a big night over there. Saturday and Friday TV would still be big today if the old system was in place.

                    What’s your take on that aspect that I just brought up with the Friday and Saturday TV picture in the U.S. and other countries?

                    • Thanks for the interesting response. 🙂

                      The executive obsession with young audiences started when TV was on top (the Friends/ER era). The push to make 18-49 be considered “all-important” started with FOX stating that it couldn’t battle the Big 3 everywhere so they’d focus on 18-49.

                      The media approved and concentrated too (ageism is just so near and dear to Hollywood and “Saint” Brandon Tartikoff never got any flak for proudly stating that none of the Friends writers were over 30… 🙁 ). He died too young so what I just did is completely anathema in Hollywood, even today…

                      Interestingly, by choosing a small target, FOX ended up never growing to match the other networks, although now NBC has dropped so fast it is neck and neck when it comes to scripted programming.

                      FOX also never grew to a full-fledged network, which is another example of how narrowing the target makes it harder to hit…

                      The most hilarious (in a sad way) example is of course CW, which having proudly shrunk its target to 18-35 decided under that great genius Dawn Ostroff that only women were welcome to CW and shrunk the target to women 18-35.

                      Surprisingly Dawn and CW missed the target completely and CW never recovered and we endlessly hear of ratings that are “good for CW” (ie. they’re bad but not as bad as the worst of CW…)

                      More later…

                    • Man I loved Tartikoff too he died way too young he was a pioneer in so many areas and truly turned NBC around in the 80s to a top network at the time time and the 90s success that NBC had should be credited to Tartikoff because the network would’ve never had Friends or ER without him. His vision helped get those shows developed and the network is still benefiting these days due to his partnership with Dick Wolf right before he died bringing in Law & Order in 1990. Although he worked with Tartikoff on Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice back in the mid-80s.

                      You hit the nail right on the head when you mentioned that the media brought into the whole demo thing just because it looked like that was the reason that those super shows back in the 90s were hitting huge.

                      Me and you both know both shows worked out not because of the focus on the demo but because both shows skewed to a wide range of viewers and had huge mass appeal. See this is why whenever you read my post in Wednesday’s ratings about the importance of viewership in how much of a difference Laura made being SVU and PD’s lead-in rather than Heartbeat.

                      Once the networks completely focused on the target demo in the 2000s and other sub-demos we started to see ratings get even lower. The blame always goes to the expansion of cable or internet but cable was around in the 80s and more people had it in the 90s yet the numbers still remained huge. The real blame was the networks stopped focusing on appealing their shows to every single viewer including citizens. CBS did so well in the 2000s and early part of the 2010s because they knew their bread was buttered by the older audiences and appealed much wider.

                      Now Dawn definitely missed the mark she went with an even smaller demo a demo that also isn’t going to watch live television as much as the other demos and it really hasn’t improved that much by using that same target with males. If you’re going to run a network it needs to skew to every age. The only networks that I give a pass to for specific targeted demos are children’s networks because obviously you’re only appealing your programming especially during day hours to ages 2-11 or 2-17 but there should be no division in the demos once people hit the age of 18. What an 18 year old watches is the same thing an 80 year old watches in my opinion.

                    • I of course completely agree. 🙂

                      As Les Moonves once said: “A viewer is a viewer is a viewer”.

                      For purposes of selling ads it really doesn’t matte because there’s so many products.

                      For the past 30 years or so, I’ve read repeatedly that TV was endangered because younger people don’t watch as much TV and thus audiences would wither, but then when 20-somethings become 50-somethings they watch more TV…

                      There is something highly unhealthy about an industry focusing on the least-likely audience as its obsession.

                      Personally I think it’s because ageism reigns supreme in Hollywood, especially now that being racist and sexist is frowned upon and ageism is the last politically correct form of prejudice.

                      You can’t frown upon your competitor’s audience because it’s Black nowadays ,but it’s OK (and even encouraged) to say the network who beat you is really a loser because the few people watching you are younger on average…

                      The networks were successful as long as they chose to BROADcast. When they went to narrowcasting, they started failing.

                      For the longest time Les Moonves at CBS resisted the trend and built a #1 network, essentially by default, but after year of Nina Tassler destroying that culture (although I’ll have to blame Les for keeping her on so long!) CBS looks like it is headed to the depths of the other networks.

                      It’s sad because, unlike what we keep being told, this is a mostly self-inflicted disaster.

                    • On Law and Order, this is a great point. I think it’s fair to day that Law and Order delivered way more than was expected in syndication.

                      Going back to the theme of “they’ve forgotten how to run TV”, the usccess of L&O didn’t get through executive mentality and they still prefer continuing storyline shows because they are, somehow, considered “edgy” and “high quality” even as audiences don’t tend to watch them as often as contained stories episodic shows.

                      On Stephen J. Cannell, you can find online interviews where he describes why he sold his company when FinSyn was overturned.

                      He would go pitch shows, the network would get excited and then would tell him “by the way, it has to be an NBC/ABC/FOX/CBS production or we won’t make it”.

                      Cannell then left TV production and writing and became a novelist (and occasional actor), which may have suited him just fine but was a huge loss for the TV industry.

                      Today, there are no independent companies like that (creator hire-out companies getting a Vanity Card aren’t the same at all).

                      Stephen Bochco also sold his company (to FOX) at the time but did not retire.

                      More later…

                    • Great points as you see there even Dick Wolf is hampered by ownership of Universal Television. Nobody these days are owning their shows anymore it’s all corporate and not independent at all.

                      Like you will never see a situation these days where a Stephen J. Cannell is able to see his properties on the syndication market. Now only the corporate studios above the networks are able to sell those shows now.

                      In some ways I don’t blame TV networks for doing this because it is beneficial for them to make money off of shows in the syndication market or internationally but at the same time you lockout the really creative driven writers out of the TV business because you will have a lot of Cannells out there who don’t want to share ownership with the corporate buffs over their properties.

                    • Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

                      I don’t remember if Dick Wolf ever was fully independent, but he certainly was more independent than he is now.

                      Owning the shows also enabled Cannell to market them as he wanted ans his heirs continue to do so as witnessed by the affordable prices of his DVD sets.

                      The studios looked at the near-term, which has been a problem plaguing Hollywood.

                      They saw that owning the shows would allow them to keep getting their big salaries for a while longer and that’s all they cared about.

                      I still remember the fawning articles I read then about the studios claiming they were doing this so that they could “help” the indies (that was a laugh – they helped them disappear but nobody in the press said a word about that).

                      The problem is when you destroy the system that forces creativity to be front and center, after a while, the culture changes and I think the TV culture has changed considerably.

                      Today, completely incompetently-made shows like Modern Family or Mr. Robot are looked at as “creative” as if shaking the camera was creative when the whole history of the art has been trying to find ways to stop the camera shaking…

                      So-so directors in the 80s were making decent episodes. Today, they make unwatchable drivel, because that is what’s expected.

                      You can take a look at older shows and see great cinematography as a matter of routine. Today the few shows shot on film look like they were shot on video and the height of cinematography is a re-run of Two and Half Men…

                      The system today puts the executive at the center of the creative process, not the creators, which is why having relationships with the said executives trumps talent or even simple competence.

                    • By the way the responses are showing up backwards (I’m breaking them up to avoid unending posts… 🙂 )

                      In Europe, there are fewer channels for a variety of reasons (government taking over cable operations and ending up not cabling their countries – remnants of the State-owned single broadcaster era that led government not to deregulate the airwaves so as to keep the number of channels artificially low), so the incumbent still have a huge advantage.

                      From what I read, in France the main private broadcaster is having huge problems as it was relying heavily on US (mainly CBS) hits and now that there’s no hits its ratings are collapsing (they’ll blame it on more competition of course as cable TV is finally available nationwide).

                      On the days of the week, it pays to remember that Friday was Dallas Night.

                      Tuesdays were relatively low-rated until NCIS and Idol made it the highest-rated night on TV.

                      Thursdays used to be juggernauts, until a series of really bad shows destroyed the public’s habit.

                      Saturdays used to house Wonderful World of Disney on ABC which was a Top 20 show until Disney decided to favor Disney Channel’s Saturday and canceled it.

                      If you put quality family shows on Saturdays, they’d probably beat most of the rest of what’s on today.

                      I don’t really understand the mentality that prevails in Hollywood and the media (and we read its echoes here in the comments) that certain days of times are “cursed”.

                      We now hear that 10pm is impossible to program, when it housed some of the biggest hits on TV (ER, L.A. Law for instance).

                      Saturdays fell victim to the lack of budget of the networks as they were looking for ways to lower their programming bill (Jeff Zucker famously wanted to also get rid of 8pm and 10pm, which led to the Jay Leno disaster).

                      They used the “cursed slot” theory as a way to justify their bad management.

                      As always, in the end, I blame the absentee owners who believed those ridiculous excuses.

        • Networks don’t want to give the hours back to the local stations because the networks wouldn’t get those hours back. I mainly just watch sports on Saturdays although once NBA & NHL seasons are over Saturdays can get boring even know I’ll put MLB on which I’m not a big baseball fan.

          • The same networks that renew flops like Quantico and New Girl “think” it saves them money not to program Saturdays because that’s not when (supposedly) the “cool” people watch TV.

            All a bunch of prejudiced nonsense of course.

      • CBS saved Fridays when the other networks were getting ready to fill it with re-runs.

        I think if Blue Bloods wasn’t as solid as it is, you’d be hearing rumblings again.