What do Revenge, Once Upon a Time, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, Amazing Race and all of Fox’s animation block have in common? Every show returned with a season premiere last night that was lower rated than last fall’s opener.
It was an across-the-board Sunday bummer for broadcast entertainment shows. Starting with ABC, Once was down 33 percent and Revenge was down 25 percent. New adultery drama Betrayal got off to a decidedly unsexy 5.3 million viewers and a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating, down 29 percent from 666 Park Ave. in this slot last year.
On CBS, Amazing Race was down 20 percent, The Good Wife was down 17 percent and The Mentalist was down 24 percent (all slightly delayed, naturally). Good Wife tied Betrayal as the night’s lowest-rated entertainment program and you have to figure this is likely a final season starting at that number for a fifth year show.
Fox: Simpsons down 26 percent, Bob’s Burgers down 19 percent, Family Guy down 21 percent, and American Dad down 16 percent. So there — American Dad gets the award for dropping the least, percentage wise.
Thoughts: It’s hard to blame any one show. When every returning broadcast series is down between 16 and 33 percent on the same night, it’s tough to say: Clearly, The Mentalist or Family Guy is just terrible this year. A lot of the shows are old, but by no means all of them. NBC led the night with a strong Sunday Night Football, but there’s nothing unusual about that in the fall, and last night’s rating wasn’t inordinately high. T
here’s a few readers in the comments noting that some of these shows are doing better than their finales. I know that seems like a logical comparison — why wouldn’t you compare a show to its last episode like we do on most weeks? But networks compare premieres to premieres, and finales to finales. They run at different times of the year with a different set of expectations given how much premieres are promoted and how a show tends to start strong at the beginning of a season and then fade during its run.
Now I know a lot of you are wondering: What about AMC’s Breaking Bad? Surely those ratings are up, right? Probably. We’ll have those numbers later today. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Showtime’s Homeland and new drama Masters of Sex also chalked up strong numbers. So maybe that’s the answer, but it doesn’t feel like the full answer (it wouldn’t explain 8 p.m. decline, for example). So I guess we’re left with the usual explanations that TV audiences are getting more fractured and consuming media in different ways, etc.
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