Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spinning Cupid: A Case For Renewal

So, I've talked on this blog a bit about CUPID and it's practically nil chance of success given the lack of promotional push by ABC. I have friends who work on the show and, y'know, the pilot was pure cotton-candy escapism (not revolutionizing television, but not the worst thing by a country mile).

And its numbers last night weren't fabulous when looking just at the numbers in a vacuum. So here's how I'm going to make a case, based purely on the premiere's preliminary results, for renewal. Stick with this, I think you might be surprised.

Overall numbers:

- 13.005 million viewers
- 2.9/7 A18-49

- 7.564 million viewers (58.2% retention)
- 2.3/6 A18-49 (79.3% retention)

CUPID will drop in the finals while DWTS will rise because of 2 minutes of overrun. However, 79.3% retention in the demo in the prelims is very, very good for ABC at 10pm.

Looking at the half-hours...

DWTS 9:30
- 15.126 million viewers
- 3.5/9 A18-49

CUPID 10:00
- 8.643 million viewers (57.1% retention)
- 2.5/7 A18-49 (71.4% retention)

CUPID 10:30
- 6.485 million viewers (75.0% retention)
- 2.1/6 A18-49 (84.0% retention)

Anyone who tracks ratings can tell you that no show ABC has ever put on after the very old skewing DWTS retains viewers. So I'm just going to stop looking at that figure. In addition, the only figure ABC cares about is the demo. They are on record about this.

So, let's do some comparisons (all in preliminary ratings, not finals).

First, let's compare to what many see as CUPID's direct competition in a battle for renewal, CASTLE. For it's premiere on March 9th...

DWTS (8-10pm)
- 5.9/15 A18-49

- 3.3/9 A18-49 (56.0% retention)

Breaking out the half-hours...

DWTS 9:30
- 6.7/16 A18-49

CASTLE 10:00
- 3.7/9 A18-49 (55.2% retention)

CASTLE 10:30
- 2.9/8 A18-49 (78.4% retention)

You'll already notice that, just comparing premieres, CUPID's retention is far better than CASTLE's in the demo. Let's move away form the premiere of CASTLE, which followed a much-hyped and much-higher-than-usual rated DWTS premiere, to this Monday, March 30th.

DWTS (8-10pm)
- 4.8/12 A18-49

- 2.5/7 A18-49 (52.1% retention)

Looking at half-hours...

DWTS 9:30
- 5.4/13 A18-49

CASTLE 10:00
- 3.0/8 A18-49 (55.6% retention)

CASTLE 10:30
- 2.1/6 A18-49 (70.0% retention)

CASTLE's demo retention is FAR inferior to CUPID's. In addition, this week both CASTLE and CUPID scored a 2.1 in the demo at 10:30pm, but CUPID did so with a much smaller lead-in, and with less of a drop-off from 10pm.

But, let's be honest. CASTLE isn't the only thing we should be looking at. Afterall, CASTLE is circling the drain, so doing better retention, if not better numbers, than a show that in all likelihood is going to be cancelled is nothing to crow about.

Let's look at the rest of ABC's regular 10pm shows, and their most recent performances (looking only at half-hours, which I think spell things out in a much clearer picture).

ABC Wednesdays (data from March 25 airings)

LOST 9:30
- 4.0/9 A18-49

- 2.3/6 A18-49 (57.5% retention)

- 1.9/6 A18-49 (82.6% retention)

Looking at the above performance, CASTLE behaves a lot like LIFE ON MARS (which, by the way, is cancelled and has its series finale tonight). Actually, from a retention standpoint, it does worse than the cancelled show.

ABC Thursdays (data from March 26 airings)

- 5.8/14 A18-49

- 4.1/10 A18-49 (70.7% retention)

- 3.5/9 A18-49 (85.4% retention)

PRIVATE PRACTICE, while not being an out-of-the-park smash hit after GREY'S ANATOMY (outside of the crossover stunt, anyway) is constantly being applauded for having better-than-anything-else-tried-there-before retention out of GREY'S. Notice that CUPID's demo retention (this is long, so to remind you... 71.4% from the 9:30 portion of its lead-in, and 84.0% at 10:30 from its own 10:00 portion) is very similar to PRIVATE PRACTICE's.

A final night and show to compare CUPID to: Sundays and BROTHERS & SISTERS (which is in its third season airing after DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, so ABC must like the numbers it puts up after the ladies of Wisteria Lane)

ABC Sundays (data from March 22 airings)

- 4.9/12 A18-49

- 3.7/9 A18-49 (75.5% retention)

- 3.3/9 A18-49 (89.2% retention)

Comparing CUPID to BROTHERS & SISTERS, the veteran show only has slightly higher retention, both from its lead-in half-hour, and holding onto its own audience at 10:30pm.

One final feather in CUPID's cap: it outperformed previous Tuesday 10pm occupant ELI STONE (which averaged a 1.9 in the demo in the timeslot and had a much stronger lead-in from the Fall cycle of DWTS). Looking at ELI STONE's final post-DWTS airing (November 18, 2008):

- 4.0/10 A18-49

- 1.8/5 A18-49 (45.0% retention)


DWTS 9:30
- 4.1/10 A18-49

- 2.1/5 A18-49 (51.2% retention)

- 1.4/4 A18-49 (66.7% retention)

All of this can change with next week's numbers. But based purely on the premiere's preliminary ratings, CUPID behaves like PRIVATE PRACTICE, which is a shoo-in for renewal. The series should not be put at fault for its lead-in being weak and for not bringing in a huge audience of its own when it was barely promoted by ABC (unlike CASTLE).


Ted said...


As you know I would like nothing more than CUPID to work. (I happen to like CASTLE as well) so I appreciate your time and effort on this. I just don't understand why no matter how good/relatable a new show is on ABC it can't make it, thse last few years, whereas CBS can premiere someone sitting on the toilet for an hour and it almost always works.

Anonymous said...

You must be dizzy from all the spinning. :D

Travis Yanan said...


I think the monkeys at ABC are asking themselves the very same question (I have an idea, though... it comes from not premiering 17 new shows every year, and having the patience to leave some shows in a timeslot long enough to gain a following).


... I'm EXHAUSTED. Hope my friends on the show appreciate it!

Ted said...

I know Travis, but CBS has the luxury of not needing to premiere 17 new shows since most of theirs work and then they defy ratings normality when shows like NCIS grown in year 6!!!! That never happens. Plus in terms of patience ABC supports shows much more than CBS does. No way would CBS let BOSTON LEGAL run for 5 years with low 2's even though they are techincally not young skewing. CBS would never have brought back ELI STONE for another year.

My issues with ABC aside, and you know I think they could have promoted CUPID more, although they did a nice job the last week and honestly I bet the results would not have been different. (It would have been nice if CUPID could have gotten a shot behind DH or GA, but you can't have everything).

Yes my point, The truth is ABC is much more creative and takes more risks than CBS and also usually goes all the way in terms of promotion and in the case of ELI DSM and PD tries to give shows they believe in a real shot.

Anyway, your friends at the show should be proud of what you are trying to do. Let them know they have at least one avid fan that really appreciates the show.

Ted said...

So Travis do you think the fact that CUPID didnt drop in the finals even though DWTS went up 2 tenths is encouraging? That never happens

Travis Yanan said...


I honestly don't know what to make of Cupid not dropping at 10:02. Like you said... it never happens. The retention is SLIGHTLY worse because DWTS improved a tad... but still in the PP/B&S range (see my newer post.

For my friends' sake, I'm going to take it as an encouraging sign.

Also, I will tell them they have a avid fan :D

Anonymous said...

Isn't the demo, especially with ABC much more important than retention?

Travis Yanan said...

@Anonymous 3:18PM

Yes and no. What we're really quibbling about here is which show gets renewed next season, if any. Putting aside all other differences (cost, behind the scenes, drama, etc), if two shows have relatively the same demo (like CUPID and CASTLE, this week), but one retains significantly more of its lead-in than the other (like CUPID does), then what that ought to say is the network should renew CUPID over CASTLE.

However, since the actual numbers *are* low, as you point out, CUPID shouldn't stay where it is if the network is to capitalize on the renewal decision (that was made for retention reasons). The network would have to move CUPID elsewhere (and, in the case of CUPID, the network could actually put some promotional money behind the move). The question then is "where can we put a series to give it a better shot?" Would CUPID do better on Mondays at 10pm out of the stronger DWTS performance show lead-in than CASTLE is doing? Or better on Thursdays at 8pm than UGLY BETTY or the IN THE MOTHERHOOD / SAMANTHA WHO? block is doing? Do you move BROTHERS & SISTERS and put CUPID after DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES? I could go on, but won't.

Of course, if CUPID sinks next week, the question is moot, because while we've seen ABC is willing to stick with shows with mid 2s (i.e. BOSTON LEGAL) in the demo, it doesn't renew anything lower than that. In that sense, the overall number is of utmost importance.

While we're on that subject, CASTLE is due for a drop next week, too, because DWTS will not be leading directly into it (and no one is predicting SURVIVING SUBURBIA will perform remotely as well as the final 30 minutes of DWTS).

The overall question, of course, is "will ABC even see to renew any of the midseason dramas it's introducing?" That depends on its pilots as well as the ratings.

Alisha said...

I agree with Ted, I would like to see both Castle and Cupid stay on. Though to be honest, Sarah Paulson is the only reason I'm watching Cupid, she is fantastic. I enjoyed the first episode, hopefully it will get a fair shot at making it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply ,Travis. It does make sense that when two shows competing for renewal are getting around the same demo, retention would be factored in.

I wasn't a fan of Cupid last night, but for your friends that work on the show, I hope it does well.