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Welcome to our Ratings Survival Guide, a handy new feature which takes each new fall series on the broadcast networks and tells you the numbers it will need to survive for a second season. In general, a show's success isn't so much where it lands on the weekly ratings chart but rather how it performs in two key categories:
1. How much of its lead-in audience it retains. If a show averages 10 million viewers that's a good thing. But if the show that airs before it is averaging 30 million viewers, that's not a good thing. Why? Because 20 of those 30 million viewers decided to turn off that particular channel when the next show came on.
2. How it performs year-to-year in its time period. A new show is usually in its time period because the network thinks it can do better than it did in that slot last year. In other words, do worse than the show that was canceled after three weeks last fall then you too probably are not long for this world.
As you'll see, together these measurements paint a clear picture on how a particular show is doing. So without further ado, let's begin.
BETTER WITH YOU and THE WHOLE TRUTH (ABC)
(Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c & 10:00/9:00c)
A quick glance below will tell you not only how important ABC's returning comedies are to the network but also just how badly it has struck out in the 10:00/9:00c hour as of late. Numbers in said slot have ranged from a 48% (both "Life on Mars" and "The Unusuals" after "Lost") to 72% ("Dirty Sexy Money" after "Private Practice") retention rate while this past season "Ugly Betty" and "Eastwick" fell into the 60% range with "Happy Town" slipping to 53%. That leaves a relatively low bar for "The Whole Truth" to clear to be considered viable.
As for "Better With You," the obvious benchmark is the short-lived "Hank" (not to mention "Scrubs's" brief cameo on the night during its final season). Aiding in its quest: the fact the series will sit in a comfy hammock between "The Middle" and "Modern Family."
Here's how ABC has fared on Wednesday nights the past two seasons (viewers are in millions, adults 18-49 is the percentage of said viewers in the demographic; all are based on fast national data, using only first-run episodes):
|wednesdays in 2008-2010||time||viewers|
|Lost: Season 5||9:00 PM||9.89|
|Modern Family: Season 1||9:00 PM||9.30|
|Cougar Town: Season 1||9:30 PM||7.01|
|Private Practice: Season 2||9:00 PM||7.55|
|The Middle: Season 1||8:30 PM||6.94|
|Life on Mars||10:00 PM||5.29|
|Dirty Sexy Money: Season 2||10:00 PM||5.82|
|Scrubs: Season 8||8:00 PM||5.04|
|Better Off Ted: Season 1**||8:30 PM||4.60|
|The Unusuals||10:00 PM||5.40|
|Pushing Daisies: Season 2||8:00 PM||5.41|
|Ugly Betty: Season 4||10:00 PM||4.39|
|Happy Town||10:00 PM||4.11|
|Scrubs: Season 9||8:00 PM||3.89|
** includes only first-run, in-season airings in the specified time period
COMING TOMORROW: ABC's "My Generation," CBS's "Bleep My Dad Says" and NBC's "Outsourced."