Fresh Off The Boat: By The Numbers

On this valiant day, February 21, 2020, ABC sitcom Fresh Off The Boat leaves the air when primetime programming begins tonight.  Rather than pulling phony social graces like a Scottsdale Housewife, TVRG will rather ask readers to examine the data, play by play.  Based on a 90's gram through the life of adolescent Eddie Huang (Forrest Wheeler), the series intended to piggyback on The Goldbergs's success of the same vision in the 80's.  Though intended as the central focus, Constance Wu overtook the spotlight as his ambitious and centered mother, Jessica.

FOTB came into ABC's airwaves as not its first, but most successful sitcom showcasing an Asian American family.  And after entering it's second season, FOTB continued trendsetting records as it was not the first, but second sitcom on ABC's airwaves featuring an Asian dominant family as Ken Jeong vehicle Dr. Ken joined the Friday lineup).  Neither like nor associated, both earned renewals and showcased ordinarly familial problems in said demographic (and each differing, as FOTB managed to annoy the canned laughter method).  FOTB only lived that glimpse for two years as Dr. Ken waded out in 2017, and continued to sail through the schedule where needed.  Being a (then outsourced show from FOX), Fresh Off The Boat rotated across ABC's schedule as an afterthought.  Initially enjoying two helpings in the plum timeslot leading into Modern Family, FOTB was forced to colonize some of ABC's toughest timeslots.  As seen from every rating listed below, pick out where its timeslot moved and play along for its 6 seasons:


Behold all episodes and seasons listed.  Debuting to a healthy 2.51 rating mid-season in 2015, FOTB enjoyed a cozy nook juxtaposed to Modern Family.  For two rude episodes.   Beyond that, they were forced to lead a struggling Tuesday night with struggling reality variety show Repeat After Me leading into a declining Marvel: Agents of Shield.  Sound insulting?  An underappreciated propped further into the schedule the following season behind a Muppets revival.  While most tuned in initially for an Office/Muppets mashup, the novelty wore off, and Muppets faded fast.  After determining its "lead in" dragged down its success, ABC yanked muppets, swishing FOTB back to 8:00 (in its 4th timeslot) move to support newbie The Real O'Neal's.

Being moved around like an undesirable wedding guest and forced to support duds led to deterioration.  The first time FOTB dipped below the 1.0 demo line this season was as shocking as Christmas Story's Ralphie yelping "Oh Fudge!"   Shocking then, but this series had many F-bombs in wait.  Given ABC desired to recolonize comedies on Tuesdays the following year, Fresh Off The Boat moved again to 9:00.  Now powered behind powerhouse American Housewife (and drained again with The Real O'Neal's), FOTB performed moderately its 3rd season.  ABC expressed interest, granting a special evening on Wednesday in January 2017 to its debut timeslot. While strong, it performed at 80% of where the usual competition performed. Impressively, FOTB retained 89.8% of the prior seasons' ratings set against continual Nielsen declines.

Season 4 arrived with the series' 6th move, sliding forward 30 minutes to 8:30.  Juxtaposed to veterans The Middle and Black-ish, what could go wrong?  Peer pack to the last paragraph at the first time the series dipped below the 1.0 demo.  Five episodes in, this became the norm.  Instead of "Oh Fudge!" the expression became "Oh, shit" in episode 69.  Followed by "Ahh shit!" in episode 72.  And taking an ode to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, episodes 74-79 resembled Napoleon in the bowling alley foully expelling "Shit, shit, shit shit shit shit!!!!!!"  ABC truncated FOTB at 19 episodes, leaving it s future questionable.

The network renewed the series, although it would mov a 7th time to 8:00 on Fridays.  Attempting to re-establish comedies this evening, ABC chose to selected an aging franchise (FOTB) and a weakling (Speechless) to populate a graveyard of an evening destroyed by Once Upon a Time.  FOTB suffered losing almost half of its audience, yet pushed on.  After companion Speechless passed on at the close of the season, FOTB moved an 8th time back a half hour, leaving 15 episodes of finality, represented in the table.  Burning bright at a 2.51 rating in February 2015, the series bows out 5 years and 6 seasons later a full 2 points below at 0.43 for its seasonal average.  And yet the quality burned strong throughout!


Hawaii Five 0: Every Episode, Every Rating Before The Finale

And so ends another sturdy staple in CBS' leacy, twice.  Hawaii Five-0 holds the distinction (by name) of traversing CBS' schedule for 22 of its 72 years on air, outplaying Law and Order: SVU by one season (by name that is). The divisive factor, however, is the current mainstay ending tomorrow is a reboot of the original 1968-80 hit machine (for more about this show's ratings success, check into TVRG's Ratings History Library).

The original series starred Jack Lord and Steve Denning for the entirety of the 12 seasons, with James MacArthur and Kam Fong remaining with the series from beginning long into the later seasons.  Like the original series, the H50 revival (distinguished as it traded the "O" for a numeric "0"), the revival, which arrived 42 years after premiere, held 4 cast members for the meat an duration.  James Caan and Alex O'Loughlin lined the entirety of the series with Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park contracted through the first 7 seasons.   Both successful, and the 21st Century revival cemented CBS' less desirable timeslots and may perhaps have lasted longer.

2010-15 Ratings

2015-20 Ratings

Both series traversed CBS' lineups for long stretches, yet plastered differing sections of the schedule.  The original only intersected on Fridays in fall 1975, instead bouncing between Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, only to get burned [off] on Saturdays in spring 1980.

Unlike 20th century Hawaii-5-O, the revival remained in solid volcanic soil on CBS 10:00 Mondays for 4 seasons.  Perhaps plotting over scheduling can be attributed to drops after Season 3, but the series demonstrated stability against changing times as demonstrated through the tables.  CBS opted to relocate H50 to Friday at 9:00 at the start of the 5th season, and the series prevailed.  It colonized the timeslot, well into its last season before being slid forward for the earlier run.  And yet as demonstrated in the table above, Hawaii 5-0 stood strong!  And its parting legacy is Blue Bloods, MacGyver and fledgling Magnum PI perhaps will hol down the fort after H50  bid adieu tomorrow.

2018-19 Sitcom Ratings: Big Bang Theory Goes Out Large (And Takes Nielsens with Them)

All good things must come to an end, and The Big Bang Theory marked the end of the last mega-sitcom.  For sometime, Modern Family was viewed as a competitive mega-show of the same caliber, but its ratings cooled in the late 2010's.  The remaining sitcoms clamored for solid ratings.  Solid as in over 1.0 that is.  Only one third of the sitcoms displayed on broadcast network television achieved this status for their overall seasons, with only 7 in that posse never delivering a fractional rating in its existence.

FOX's controlled burn of eclectic comedies saw resurgence, mainly as Last Man Standing's revival in the fall delivered huge.  The newest network also too a no fuss, no muss approach to scheduling, leaving its Sunday 9:30 timeslot vacant and boarded up with repeats for majority of the season after Rel flamed out.  NBC's fortunes resembled the prior season with soft deliveries despite resurrecting Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  And ABC returned to the cellar following its prior season's Roseanne resurgence, with The Conners delivering a solid entry.  The network as a whole experienced losses, and its landmark Wednesday comedy block softened.  Fresh Off the Boat and Speechless attempted to recolonize Friday nights and could not establish a foundation juxtaposed to Last Man Standing.

The Big Bang Theory's exit marked a bittersweet exit as it debuted during a reality-TV littered era when sitcoms were unpopular.  And TBBT itself only modestly popular.  And somehow it exploded to great heights, carrying all the way to the end.


2018-19 Ratings History

Year by year losses are inevitable with live viewing trends and broadcast network television.  For those cruising year by year, does it appear this season took a massive hit?  Glance again, as this data is raw Live 18-49 Adult Demos vs. the prior year featured Live+7-day viewing patterns.  These jolts and inconsistencies are beneficial as they expose viewing patterns.  Most glaringly, the 2017-18 data would paint Reality TV to be all but gone.  This season, however exposes fresher viewing patterns with shows such as The Bachelor and Survivor rising higher as less people view reality primetime TV later.  

To check out other years' ratings, visit the Ratings History Library.


Trending Hot -- Reality TV took a battering in the 2010's thanks to trends reverting back to scripted fares, but The Masked Singer shoved the pendulum the other direction.  Promisingly, American Idol's revival and existing and respected franchises The Bachelor(ette), Survivor and the Voice bounced back to higher ratings.  CW rarely sets hot trends, except they refused to can one single show.  Instead, they declared final seasons for aged and weakened shows, allowing them to end with proper  notice and celebration.  Sports ratings remained strong, though down like everything else.  Best not to blame the kneel/squat/sit/lie down/lie flat controversy as everyone went down deeper this season.  As seen by rankings 46-146th Place, series ranking in fractional territory became common sites.

Trending Tepid -- Breakout scripted programming turned to ash after This is Us' Jack died from smoke inhalation on This is Us.  Indeed, scripted series outnumbered the schedule's remains, but fewer cracked into the top 30.  ABC sitcoms, once the network's landmark of prominence, faded and chipped into fractions.  Shows rating above 1.0 remained existent, though declining deeper into the season.  Friday night programming bounced back from disposal grounds for shows to modest players.  CBS' procedural playpen flourished, and FOX enjoyed a brief renaissance with Last Man Standing igniting fall on fire.

Trending Cold -- Revivals may have been the rage the prior season, but they were gimmicked out not too long after.  Blame Roseanne's moods on Twitter, but revivals collapsed.  Magnum PI debuted to underwhelming results, Will & Grace crashed, The Conners only survived due to controversy and Murphy Brown never stood a chance as it debuted soft and was filibustered as it complained too loudly about the POTUS.

Source -- https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/ratings-broadcast-network-series-2018-19-1213344

2001-02 Ratings History

Written Surviving Fear Factors by Bridger Cunningham 

The afterglow of Survivor blazing two runs wore off, handing the first place Immunity idol over to NBC.  The torch still burned bright for reality TV, as the 2000's created a ripe pasture for the franchise.  NBC Thursdays reigned, albeit not as strong as the 90's.  CBS took a comfy second place, ABC a sinking third, and FOX an equally sinking 4th place.  Down in the cellar, WB's dramatic windfall calmed, and UPN's sails also hit doldrums. 9/11 created a ripple effect across the board, toning down violence, delaying fares and forcing America to adopt upbeat vs. heavy fares. 

To check out other years' ratings, visit the Ratings History Library. 


Trending Hot -- Dramas on NBC lit fireworks with ER slicing the Nielsen carnage in Anthony Edwards' final season.  Law and Order multiplicities fared well, as did policical West Wing and heartful Providence and Ed.  Procedural dramas reigned strong with indications of growth, and CBS fostered the brand with CSI. 

Trending Tepid -- FOX and ABC struggled to find their footing this year as the first two networks hogged the spoils.  Duplicate news outlets cooled despite the devastation 9/11 inflicted on the masses.  UPN managed to outbid WB for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, adding to a mixture of tepid recyclables the network managed to thrift. 

Trending Cold -- Unpopular sitcoms.  If their name was not Friends, Will and Grace or Everybody Loves Raymond, a mediocre to insulting rating came home.  Game shows struck out, soaps were out and movie evenings became a joke as DVR's and extended cable patterns voided out cinema performance. 


1998-99 Ratings History

Written Tiring of Reality by Bridger Cunningham 

 What a difference one year makes.  In the wake of Seinfeld ending in May 1998, NBC's stranglehold on 1st place softened.  CBS took a solid second, with ABC holding third, the same pattern and configuration of the last two seasons.  FOX was a softer 4th, as expected, and WB and CW trailed so far behind the two combined still underrated Fox.  The 1998-99 season seemed tired as the hits faded and networks/showrunners scrambled to locate the next trend or hit.  Instead of pressing more effort into locating the next "it" show, the networks relied on lazy tactics such as plastering 20/20 and Dateline across their schedule to plug holes.

To check out other years' ratings, visit the Ratings History Library. 

 
Sitcoms no longer dominated the top of the ratings, yet offered 73 of the 161 original shows in this table.  Duplicity was the theme of 1998-99, as news outlets on the big three duplicated to 4-5 showings per week.  Nielsen data counted several shows twice as they aired more than twice a week over several weeks.  Reality TV and variety platforms were on the rise, though they did not register above 39th place.  NBC housed the number one show ER while having a noticeable scarcity in other successful dramas.  Instead, Dateline traipsed across the landscape.  The peacock also housed a total of 16 sitcoms with Thursdays continuing to burn red-hot for a 15th season in a row.  All the while Monday and Tuesday sitcoms struggled or met an unceremonious ending. 

CBS had fewer sitcoms, as they bolstered their lineup with dramas and news.  ABC continued to attempt three blocks of sitcoms with only Tuesdays and Wednesdays experiencing success.  FOX's soaps all experienced rapid declines, with Melrose Place finally vacating after hooking up with the network for 7 seasons.  WB continued to experience surges due to the popularity of its dramas, while its sitcoms' greatest laugh generated from its paltry ratings.  And UPN struggled to distinguish itself as FOX and WB had done in recent years. 

1997-98 Ratings History

Written Thirsty for NBC Thursdays by Bridger Cunningham (former TVRG Writer)

1994-95 Ratings History

Written Watching Seinfeld Soar from the ER by Bridger Cunningham (former TVRG Writer)

1992-93 Ratings History

The 1992-93 season packed many shocking factors, the greatest that NBC ended a 3rd year in a row in 3rd Place.  Chipping away like an iceberg, several hit fares ended the prior season, and Cheers was on its way out.  Irony was NBC's next megahit lie in the top 30 (can anyone spot it?).  ABC and CBS jockeyed for 1st Place in a horse race. The chart below would appear to paint ABC the winner.  However, add award shows, special events and sports, and CBS was declared the technical winner, again.

This season held an interesting dynamic as the ratings began to disperse in interesting directions.  FOX burgeoned up the charts with several solid hits.  And though NBC was in 3rd place, the shows distributed across the board from 8th to 115th Place among the 139 ranks.  As a matter of fact, ABC and CBS's lowest shows placed lower in 125th and 126th.

To check out other years' ratings, visit the Ratings History Library.


Trending Hot -- Newsmagazine shows continued to be the rage on the heels of the Bush/Clinton presidential election.  ABC comedies continued to deliver successful results on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights.  FOX continued to colonize new territories and located Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place to Wednesdays.

Trending Tepid -- Soaps seemed to continue to prevail, on FOX that is.  The big three officially left the game with Knots Landing, as FOX ramped up on soaps with varying results.  Melrose Place narrowly survived and would help shape the 90's on FOX.  Saturdays on NBC were no longer powerhouse performances without Golden Girls.  The highest entry registered with Empty Nest's 48th place.

Trending Cold -- Shows from the class of 1991-92 saw high volumes of cancellations.  Same with the 1989-90 class as Doogie Howser, Life Goes On and Major Dad all left the air.

Source: Deseret News, 4/22/93