[09/25/12 - 04:41 PM]
The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season, Part 2: Shows That Premiere in September Have the Best Chance of Survival
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

1) Only 32% of broadcast network shows make it to a second season.
2) Shows that premiere in September have the best chance of survival.
3) Scripted and unscripted shows fail at the same rate.
4) Friday night is indeed the "death slot."
5) 10 o'clock is just as successful as any other time period.
6) 5% of shows that are announced don't even air.
7) 4% of broadcast series have changed networks.
8) New shows on average lose 14% of their audience by episode two.
9) Cable dramas are almost twice as likely to return as broadcast ones.
10) History is on the side of the majority of this fall's new shows.

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

Welcome once again to "The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season," our recurring 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. It's been a few years so we'll revisit some of our previous research as well as dig into some new areas we haven't touched on before.

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...

2. Shows that premiere in September have the best chance of survival.

Of the 892 shows that have premiered in the past 13 seasons (that's 1999-2000 through 2011-2012), 257 (or 29%) made their debuts in September - by far and away the most active month during the television season. It's also the most effective launching pad as of those 257 shows, 99 (or 39%) made it to second seasons - a full seven points ahead of the overall 32% survival rate we discussed yesterday.

The second most active month: March, with 116 series rolling out in the past 13 seasons. Here however the pendulum swings the other way as of those 116, just 33 (or 28%) made it to second seasons - four points below the usual 32% survival rate. The worst month historically to launch a series: a tie between May and August at a dismal 20% survival rate.

Here's the complete breakdown:

jan.5/19 (26%)3/14 (21%)11/22 (50%)6/19 (32%)0/5 (0%)4/6 (67%)1/3 (33%)30/88 (34%)
feb.2/6 (33%)2/9 (22%)3/6 (50%)5/15 (33%)1/2 (50%)0/0 (0%)0/1 (0%)13/39 (33%)
mar.15/36 (42%)3/7 (43%)6/29 (21%)8/26 (31%)0/6 (0%)0/9 (0%)1/3 (33%)33/116 (28%)
apr.5/12 (42%)1/7 (14%)3/6 (50%)4/11 (36%)1/5 (20%)1/4 (25%)1/2 (50%)16/47 (34%)
may1/7 (14%)1/3 (33%)2/6 (33%)0/2 (0%)1/3 (33%)0/2 (0%)0/2 (0%)5/25 (20%)
jun.4/29 (14%)1/7 (14%)2/13 (15%)9/28 (32%)0/0 (0%)2/3 (67%)0/0 (0%)18/80 (23%)
jul.2/10 (20%)3/7 (43%)5/14 (36%)5/12 (42%)0/2 (0%)3/5 (60%)0/1 (0%)18/51 (35%)
aug.5/18 (28%)1/2 (50%)2/11 (18%)0/7 (0%)1/4 (25%)0/1 (0%)0/1 (0%)9/44 (20%)
sep.19/51 (37%)31/58 (53%)10/37 (27%)18/57 (32%)8/18 (44%)7/20 (35%)6/16 (38%)99/257 (39%)
oct.9/27 (33%)5/15 (33%)3/12 (25%)8/19 (42%)0/3 (0%)7/16 (44%)1/7 (14%)33/99 (33%)
nov.1/10 (10%)0/1 (0%)5/13 (38%)1/3 (33%)0/0 (0%)0/0 (0%)0/0 (0%)7/27 (26%)
dec.3/6 (50%)0/0 (0%)2/3 (67%)2/8 (25%)0/0 (0%)0/1 (0%)0/1 (0%)7/19 (37%)
total71/231 (31%)51/130 (39%)54/172 (31%)66/207 (32%)12/48 (25%)24/67 (36%)10/37 (27%)288/892 (32%)

So what does the above really tell us? The obvious answer is that it affirms what you'd likely guess on your own: since September is the traditional start of the television season, it has the highest level of promotion and awareness of any month, which presumably translates into a greater chance for shows to catch on. Conversely, May and August seem less apt for success as far less shows are launched during the summer months. But it's not that simple: July (35%) and December (37%) also have above average survival rates while October (33%) quickly sinks from September's top rate of 39%.

More telling then are the monthly rates for the networks themselves. FOX for instance frequently gets piled on for not showing up in the fall and rebounding in January when "American Idol" returns. The evidence supports that: FOX has the worst September survival rate of the broadcast networks (27%) but the best January survival rate at 50% (excluding the defunct WB). CBS conversely is dominant in September at 53% but shrinks to 21% in January. Straddling the middle: NBC with a 32% survival rate in both months.

Ultimately when all is said and done, if a show launches in September it has a slightly better chance to make the cut for a second season.

PREVIOUSLY: Only 32% of broadcast network shows make it to a second season.

TOMORROW: Do reality or scripted shows have the best chance of survival?

  [september 2012]  

(series past and present)
(series in development)
(tv movies and mini-series)

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