[10/03/12 - 10:22 PM]
The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season, Part 8: New Shows on Average Lose 14% of Their Audience by Episode Two
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.

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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...

8. New shows on average lose 14% of their audience by episode two.

Believe it or not, losing viewership is a common practice for new shows. Looking back at the 179 shows that have premiered on the broadcast networks in the past three years (9/8/09-8/13/12), on average 14.38% of their debut audiences go away by episode two*. By episode three: 19.99%. By episode four: 24.65%. In other words, a quarter of the viewers who tuned into a show's premiere likely won't be there when the fourth episode rolls out.

When you think about it though, those statistics shouldn't be much of a surprise. If - as we've been saying for the past week and counting - only 32% of new shows make it to a second season, it makes sense that most shows will hemorrhage their audience on their way to cancellation.

What is surprising is that even in success, very few shows will ever surpass their debut audiences. Of the aforementioned 179 shows, just 29% ultimately went on to surpass their opening numbers. Or on the flip side, 71% of new shows won't ever do better than their pilots. That includes comedies like "2 Broke Girls," "New Girl" and "Community." Dramas however have the longest odds: 76 dramas have premiered in the past three years, 17% of which never grew from their respective premieres. Among them: "The Vampire Diaries," "Parenthood" and "Blue Bloods."

The lesson here: if your favorite new show is losing viewers each week, that could actually prove to be normal.

PREVIOUSLY: 4% of broadcast series have changed networks.

TOMORROW: Do cable shows have better odds of survival?

* based on P2+ Live+SD Fast National Data

  [october 2012]  

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