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[10/08/09 - 11:47 PM]
The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season: #9 - Most Shows Lose 25% of Their Debut Audience
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

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Welcome once again to "The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season," our annual feature about, well... the 10 things you need to know about the new season. The goal of this venture is to address not only common questions people have about television but to also demystify (or potentially reaffirm) stigmas out there about certain networks, time periods, genres and so forth. So with that in mind let us put on our journalistic caps and give you the cold hard truth about what's potentially ahead for some of your favorite new and returning shows...

9. Most shows lose 25% of their premiere audience by week four.

It shouldn't be too much of a surprise to learn that, for the most part, a new show's audience will fade from week to week. After all, television is weekly commitment and not everyone who watches a show's premiere will be in it for the long haul. But how large is that exodus? It turns out after the first week, 11% of viewers on average don't come back for round two. By the third week, nearly 22% of those initial premiere viewers are gone. Ultimately by a show's fourth installment, 25% of that initial audience will have tuned out. Take a look at how each new show last season fared with each successive week (the number in parenthesis denotes the rank of that week's respective change):

series (network)week 1week 2week 3week 4
mentalist, the (cbs)15.6-0.64% (7)-4.49% (6)-1.92% (6)
lie to me (fox)12.4-1.61% (9)4.84% (2)-10.48% (10)
eleventh hour (cbs)11.44.39% (4)3.51% (3)-1.75% (5)
life on mars (abc)11.3-27.43% (39)-30.09% (31)-28.32% (24)
surviving suburbia (abc)11.2-13.39% (20)-11.61% (9)-19.64% (13)
worst week (cbs)10.9-17.43% (25)-19.27% (18)-10.09% (9)
castle (abc)10.81.85% (5)-15.74% (15)-15.74% (12)
superstars of dance (nbc)10.6-8.49% (13)-32.08% (35)-38.68% (32)
harper's island (cbs)10.2-23.53% (35)-31.37% (33)-54.90% (38)
southland (nbc)9.9-3.03% (11)-18.18% (17)-32.32% (28)
fringe (fox)9.146.15% (2)3.30% (4)8.79% (3)
homeland security usa (abc)7.8-23.08% (34)-28.21% (29)-28.21% (23)
howie do it (nbc)7.8-21.79% (32)-28.21% (28)-32.05% (27)
true beauty (abc)7.6-14.47% (21)-23.68% (23)-9.21% (7)
kath & kim (nbc)7.5-18.67% (28)-33.33% (37)-28.00% (22)
secret millionaire (abc)7.4-1.35% (8)-27.03% (26)-9.46% (8)
crusoe (nbc)7.4-17.57% (26)-44.59% (40)-43.24% (36)
my own worst enemy (nbc)7.3-21.92% (33)-27.40% (27)-41.10% (35)
america's toughest jobs (nbc)7.3-2.74% (10)-10.96% (8)-44.38% (37)
cupid (abc)7.2-20.83% (30)-15.28% (14)-22.22% (15)
hole in the wall (fox)7.2-44.44% (42)-25.00% (24)-34.72% (29)
parks & recreation (nbc)6.9-13.04% (19)-23.19% (21)-26.09% (18)
gary unmarried (cbs)6.81.47% (6)8.82% (1)10.29% (2)
ex list, the (cbs)6.8-17.65% (27)-7.35% (7)-22.06% (14)
unusuals, the (abc)6.8-11.76% (18)-14.71% (13)-30.88% (25)
in the motherhood (abc)6.7-25.37% (37)-32.84% (36)-31.34% (26)
opportunity knocks (abc)6.6-9.09% (14)-21.21% (19)
kings (nbc)6.1-24.59% (36)-26.23% (25)-40.98% (34)
momma's boys (nbc)6.0-16.67% (23)-16.67% (16)-11.67% (11)
better off ted (abc)5.5-16.36% (22)-14.55% (12)-27.27% (20)
sit down, shut up (fox)5.2-19.23% (29)-59.62% (42)-71.15% (40)
dollhouse (fox)4.8-10.42% (16)-12.50% (10)-25.00% (16)
90210 (cw)4.7-31.91% (40)-29.79% (30)-38.30% (31)
do not disturb (fox)4.7-17.02% (24)-23.40% (22)
chopping block (nbc)3.8-10.53% (17)-31.58% (34)-39.47% (33)
game show in my head (cbs)3.488.24% (1)2.94% (5)11.76% (1)
privileged (cw)2.6-7.69% (12)-30.77% (32)-26.92% (19)
13: fear is real (cw)2.4-41.67% (41)-48.33% (41)-62.50% (39)
stylista (cw)2.3-21.74% (31)-21.74% (20)-26.09% (17)
valentine (cw)1.1-9.09% (15)-36.36% (38)-27.27% (21)
easy money (cw)1.1-27.27% (38)-36.36% (39)-36.36% (30)
in harm's way (cw)0.714.29% (3)-14.29% (11)0.00% (4)
average-10.88%-21.54%-25.47%

Some other interesting notes: only two of the 19 shows that lost 28% (or more) of their premiere audience got renewed for second seasons: "90210" and "Southland." Conversely, "Gary Unmarried," "Fringe" and "The Mentalist" either built or stayed on par with their debut viewership, not surprisingly earning second seasons in the process. That facet however didn't help "Game Show In My Head," "In Harm's Way" and "Eleventh Hour," all of which were canceled last season. So why were they canceled then? Stay tuned.

TOMORROW: The final tools you'll need to survive the new season.





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