THIS IS THE END: The 2006-2007 TV season ended last night, apparently, and the big winners were – once again – two networks whose style couldn’t be different. Plodding CBS, the “Tiffany Network,” ended up trailing just behind gaudy, lowbrow, cancellation-mad Fox, both generally, and in the too-broad-to-mean-anything-much 18-49 demographic.
CBS bested Fox in the 25-54 demographic, proving that basing your programming around police procedurals like CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS and Without A Trace guarantee a greyer audience, which isn’t such a bad thing since – as everybody with easy access to their rational mind knows – older folks with seniority, equity and no kids around the house anymore have more money to spend than recent college grads or young families. Just don’t tell that to the folks in marketing – you might make them cry.
It was Idol’s Tuesday and Wednesday night editions, needless to say, that pushed Fox up and over the top once again, after the network’s usual lacklustre fall season, with its straggling crop of quickly-cancelled new series, though House was also a strong performer, tying with ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy in third place overall.
Variety attributed much of House’s success to its avoidance of repeats; this was the year when it became gospel that shows that took frequent breaks and scheduled repeats in their regular timeslot – think Lost – squander viewer goodwill and suffer for it in ratings. Most older shows sagged notably this year, including the CSI franchise, Law & Order, ER and Desperate Housewives, though there were few new hits to make up for the loss – Heroes, Ugly Betty and Shark were this season’s freshly minted winners, though with nowhere near the same kinds of numbers seen in the past.
Besides the bleeding off of viewers frustrated by repeats, PVR usage was also cited as a reason for overall ratings losses. Use of digital recorders edged up near the 20 per cent threshold this year, and current Nielsen measurements don’t count shows watched more than 24 hours after a show’s air date, a bug Nielsen and the networks are trying to iron out for next season.
The big loser of the season was the CW, which came in last place, behind Univision, the Spanish-language broadcaster with its schedule of telenovelas and local news – apparently the home of America’s Next Top Model, Beauty And The Geek and Pussycat Dolls Present is no match for the one-two-three punch of Duelo de Pasiones, La Fea Más Bella and Destilando Amor in the primetime market.