Women Viewers Continue to Rule Broadcast Primetime
Broadcast networks put all kinds of strategies into play
when it comes to attracting audiences to new shows, from social media to
streaming to webisode tie-ins. Yet execs seem to get that the foundation for
any such success strategy always begins with two simple words: Ladies First.
Granted, each season, some broadcasters premiere a couple of
new series that might have more appeal to men, but the key to keeping a series
on the air is still making sure a large enough number of women tune in each
Comparing the overall adults 18-49 demo ratings with the
women 18-49 ratings reveals a number of shows that would be on the cancellation
bubble this season if it weren't for a large number of female viewers.
Among the most notable is ABC drama Scandal, which is
averaging a 2.0 among combined male and female 18-49 viewers, but a 3.1 among
women 18-49. NBC drama Parenthood is averaging a 1.8 rating among all adults
18-49, but a 2.5 among women 18-49. Fox's Glee, which has struggled for
the past two seasons, may have been cancelled after last season if not for its
heavy influx of female viewers. This season the musical dramedy is averaging a
2.1 18-49 rating, but among women 18-49, it is scoring a 2.8.
ABC comedy Suburgatory is averaging a 2.1 among
adults 18-49, but a 2.6 among women 18-49. Fox sitcom New Girl, which
has already been renewed for a third season, is averaging a 2.2 18-49 rating,
but a 2.6 among women 18-49.
ABC freshman drama Nashville is averaging a paltry
1.6 among adults 18-49 but among women 18-49 it is pulling a much healthier 2.3.
And the network's fellow drama Revenge is averaging a 2.3 18-49 rating
but a more solid 3.1 among women in that demo.
While ABC's Dancing With the Stars is not facing
cancellation because it is still averaging about 14 million in total viewers,
female viewers watching in droves are keeping its 18-49 rating just above
water. DWTS' Monday edition is
averaging a 2.4 18-49 rating, but a 3.3 among women in that demo. Its Tuesday
night results show is averaging a 2.3 18-49 rating, but a 3.1 among women in
Two more of ABC's most-watched series by women are drama Grey's
Anatomy and reality series The Bachelor. Grey's averages a
solid 2.9 among all adults 18-49, but that number is bolstered by the 4.3
rating among women 18-49. Similarly, The Bachelor averages a 2.7 in the
18-49 demo, but among women in the demo averages a 4.0. And ABC drama Once
Upon a Time averages a solid 2.8 among adults 18-49, but an even better 3.6
among women in that demo.
NBC has been having trouble on Thursday nights with its
comedy block. If you look at the ratings, one reason might be that not enough
women are tuning in. The Office has an 18-49 demo rating of 1.7, the
same rating it has among women 18-49. Community averages 1.2 among all
adults 18-49, and 1.3 among women 18-49. Parks and Recreation averages
the same 1.5 among women 18-49 and all adults 18-49. Ditto for 1600 Penn,
which averaged a 1.1 both among all adults 18-49, and among women in the demo.
NBC needs to put on some comedies that draw more women.
Fox's American Idol and NBC's The Voice are
both among the most-watched shows on television but they also skew heavily
female. Wednesday Idol averages a 4.4 in the 18-49 demo but a 5.5 among
women 18-49. The Voice averages a similar 4.4 on Monday among all
viewers 18-49, but a 5.6 among women in the demo.
What are some of the favorite shows this season among older
women in the 35-54 demo? CBS' sitcom The Big Bang Theory is tops with a
7.9 rating, followed by Wednesday American Idol (7.1), the Monday Voice
(6.9), CBS drama NCIS (6.7), Thursday Idol (6.6), Tuesday Voice
(6.5), CBS comedy Two and a Half Men (6.1), Dancing With
the Stars (5.8), CBS drama NCIS: Los Angeles (5.6) and Grey's
Among this season's freshman series that have already been
cancelled, the NBC drama Do No Harm
averaged a 0.9 among women 18-49, Fox's Mob Doctor averaged a 1.4, CBS
drama Made in Jersey averaged a 1.2, NBC's Animal Practice a 1.4
and ABC dramas Last Resort and Zero Hour averaged a 1.5 each. The
latter two ABC dramas were put on the air to specifically draw in more men.
While they did draw more men than women, they didn't draw enough women to keep
them on the air.
And of course, when women don't watch a series targeting them,
it is often a death knell. NBC's reality series Fashion Star, almost
exclusively geared to women, is averaging a 1.0 among women 18-49 in its second
There are a few broadcast primetime series -- excluding
sports -- being watched by more men than women that are doing well, but they
number a handful. The entire Fox Sunday animation block of The Simpsons, Family Guy,
American Dad, Bob's Burgers and The Cleveland
Show is watched by more men than women, and CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes
is watched by more men in the 18-49 demo than women by a slight margin.
The CBS freshman drama Vegas, the network's attempt
to reach more men with a series, averages just a 1.7 among the 18-49
demo overall, and a 1.8 among women in the demo. At the other end of the
success spectrum in the demo sits the Fox drama The Following which is
averaging a 2.8 18-49 rating, and a 3.0 among women in the demo. And CBS drama Person
of Interest is also close in ratio, averaging a 2.7 in the demo overall,
and a 2.9 among women 18-49.
Clearly, without a larger percentage of female viewers, a
series is going to have trouble surviving its freshman season.
Even on cable, for scripted series to have staying power
they need to appeal to women. Cable does have several male-skewing hits, but
they are reality series such as History's Pawn Stars and Swamp People,
Discovery's Gold Rush and Deadliest Catch, and A&E's Duck
Dynasty and Storage Wars.
With the Big Four broadcast networks ordering 100 or so pilots
during the current development season, it will be interesting to see what they ultimately
select and how many of those series will aggressively target men. Based on the
ratings numbers, the shows that do skew more male will be facing an uphill