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Ratings: Fox's new 'Laguna'-like 'Nashville' reality series debuts poorly

By Steve Rogers and Christopher Rocchio, 09/17/2007 

There's a good reason why younger-skewing programming like reality shows doesn't air on Friday nights -- a lesson Fox has been reminded of the hard way.

Friday night's premiere of its of Fox's new Nashville docu-reality series finished in last place in its 9PM ET/PT time period, according to Live Plus Same Day fast affiliate ratings data from Nielsen Media Research, Mediaweek reported Monday.

Nashville's debut only delivered an average of 2.72 million total viewers and a 0.9/3 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographic -- anemic numbers that placed it fifth in its time period among total viewers and third in its time period among Adults 18-49.

Nashville finished behind a special two-hour repeat broadcast of ABC's America's Funniest Home Videos (5.6 million viewers from 8-10PM ET/PT), The CW's Friday Night Smackdown! (4.31 million from 8-10PM ET/PT), a repeat broadcast of NBC's Las Vegas (3.86 million), and a repeat broadcast of CBS' Jericho (3.17 million) among total viewers and Home Videos (1.6/6) and Smackdown! (1.3/5) among Adults 18-49.

Despite airing a new episode of Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? as Nashville's lead-in, Fox still finished fifth for the night among total viewers (3.88 million) and households (2.5/5 rating/share) and third for the night among Adults 18-49 (1.2/4 rating/share, besting CBS and NBC's 1.1/4.)

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? finished second among total viewers (5.04 million) and Adults 18-49 (1.5/6 rating/share) its 8PM ET/PT time period, which means that viewers -- presumably families that had been enjoying 5th Grader's family-friendly programming-- tuned out in droves once Nashville began. 

Nashville averaged barely half the number of total viewers and only 60% of the Adults 18-49 audience as its 5th Grader lead-in.  The decline also continued within Nashville's broadcast -- the show lost an average of 430,000 viewers (from 2.93 to 2.5 million) and 10% of its Adults 18-49 audience from its first to its second half-hour.

Back in May, Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Liguori had been enthusiastic about using Nashville -- a Laguna Beach-like docu-reality series that follows a group of young people trying to make their mark in Nashville's music industry -- as part of a strategy to attract younger viewers back to Friday night television.

"Why Fridays?  It's kind of appropriate," Liguori told reporters when the network unveiled its Fall 2007 primetime programming schedule.  "You know, there's kind of a lot of older female shows on Friday nights, and we feel that there's a big opportunity to go a bit younger, provide some alternative choices, and do it with some real heart."

Nashville isn't the only show Fox is planning to premiere this Fall on Friday nights. 

The Next Great American Band, Fox's new Idol-like reality competition series that will search for the country's best up-and-coming musical group, will premiere with a special two-hour episode on Friday, October 19 at 8PM ET/PT.  Following its debut broadcast, Nashville will serve as The Next Great American Band's lead-in -- it least that was the plan until this weekend's Nashville debut.

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