2006: The Battle for
Monday - March 2
Going back to a previous
column, I remember writing on a subject that I feel
strongly against... weasel reporting. For those who
don't understand that, go to Wikipedia and look up
From that, we go to the
Monday premiere of "Deal or No Deal" and "The
Apprentice", the subject of this round of The Numbers
If you remember, a site
that I will not name outright - I will say that it is
one of the four most prevalent reality TV news websites
out there, but that's as far as I'll go - reported on
the return of "The Apprentice" in its news section
"While Deal Or No Deal
may be unlikely to deliver the 12.7 million viewers that
it averaged during its December broadcasts when it
begins airing weekly on Mondays, the show is still
likely to provide the best lead-in that The Apprentice
has had since Friends left the airwaves in May 2004."
This statement is "weaselly"
in that the author isn't sure that the ratings for
Monday will be as good as they were in December, but he
doesn't count on it.
Like every person who
dismissed the show early on... He was proven wrong by
Fact... The return of
"Deal or No Deal" posted 13.44 million viewers.
Fact... That number
translates into a first-place finish at 8pm, furthering
the notion that this game in this time period can, in
Fact... a 4.5/12 in the
adults 18-49 demographic is also a first-place finish.
Fact... The second half
of Monday's opening installment, according to the
more-accurate-in-reporting folks at Yahoo! and Reuters,
climbed to 14.7 million viewers and 5.1/13 in the demo
Not only did it deliver
on the 12.7 million, it built on it, not just from show
to show, but from half-hour to half-hour.
Of course, some
hemorrhaging in the face of "American Idol" is not only
expected, but confirmed, as the juggernaut spoiled a
possible $1.5 million payout and the starting of a
more-full-scale-than-ever-before "Amazing Race", but for
the sake of argument, we're going to concentrate on the
Monday airings, as these will be the standard set as
time goes on because of their regular scheduling.
Now to the other half of
From "Deal" to
A show is only as good as
This statement doesn't
come from any specific source. In fact, were it not for
the fact that I just typed it, it wouldn't even exist. I
made it up.
But if you were to read
the Yahoo! pages, or Broadcasting & Cable, or hell, even
that site from which we took the fallacy of "Deal or No
Deal" posted above, you would think that the success of
"The Apprentice" would be judged not on the show itself,
but rather on the merits of the show that preceded it.
No one once thought that
the show itself just might have run its course.
Let's look at it this
way. When it first premiered in 2004, "The Apprentice"
had a lot of muscle going for it, and it showed in its
replacement against "Scrubs" (which had since moved to
Tuesdays) and "Coupling" (which was cancelled long
before). It had so much muscle in fact that NBC threw
extra marketing behind it, saturated their key
demographic, and topped out...
In English... everyone
got sick of it.
Not even a pre-premiere
buildup that for all intents and purposes was about as
manufactured as the drama you see on "The Apprentice"
could help out the show, as it careened to fourth place
with a posting of 9.7 million viewers, down from the
season 4 premiere's 9.8 million.
The number one show on
television, Mr. Trump? Hardly. Especially given the fact
that the show at one times in its life posted 14 million
Now, this is only an
entry-level assumption. The real proof of the pudding
will be next week.
And the interesting thing
about it. I looked at all four of those leading reality
TV websites, and didn't find one mention of the show's
failure against CBS's "Two and a Half Men" & "Courting
Alex", Fox's "24", and hell, even ABC's "The Bachelor:
The freaking Bachelor
beat out the Apprentice. Account for taste
notwithstanding, such a thing is not even supposed to
happen. This was supposed to be the season that ABC sent
the Bachelor off into the sunset (after all, isn't Paris
where all good TV concepts go to die?).
Sure, the news isn't
posted on those aforementioned reality TV web sites, but
it's hard to avoid the obvious... As a viable franchise,
"The Apprentice" is continuing to tail off after having
started last year.
And just watch. In five
weeks, Donald is going to find some way to pin this all
on Howie's head. That would be a true shame.
While we're on NBC...
It looks like checkmate
in two moves for "Fear Factor."
According to a report by
TV Week, staffers on NBC's extreme stunt game show are
said to have moved on to their next jobs. An NBC
spokeswoman said production for the current season has
been completed and the network has not decided whether
to bring the show back.
This becomes a game of
"fish or cut baits." Here, NBC is presented with the
option of either bringing back the show in a different
time slot where it could maximize the amount of
advantages going for it, or count the losses and cancel
the show outright. The latter option would be quick,
easy, and certain. The former, way too time- and
resource-consuming for a show that pointed as low as
3.1/4 during sweeps and is returning this summer for
little more than a summer burnoff period.
A decision has not been
made yet, and anything can change as summer approaches.
Stay tuned... you may not get another chance.
The weekly rant, or
the banker is willing to offer you a day-old Rice
Krispie square with two bite marks taken out of it.
Last Tuesday, Ryan
Seacrest turned into something that you probably won't
see on "American Idol" unless Chris Daughtry takes the
stage again... a class act.
As you know, last
Thursday was a busy night for television, with the first
half of the finale of "Dancing with the Stars", Olympic
figure skating, and "Survivor" all on at the same time
as "Idol." In acknowledging this fact, Ryan made it
crystal clear that for the first time since the
franchise's 2002 premiere, a go at number one, while
still a given, was not easy in the face of so many good
TV options on... and we haven't even accounted for cable
For the first time on
"Idol", so far as I can remember, we saw genuine
This is why this
particular show and this particular emcee resonates in
high regard with the American people. Hey, anyone who
gets a mark of approval of both Merv Griffin and Dick
Clark can't be all bad, and Ryan showed that this week.
Kudos, Mr. Seacrest...
You just might be a hosting legend someday yet.
Chico Alexander tries
to avoid the Donald as much as possible outside the
scope of "The Apprentice"... It's proving a futile
attempt. E-mail him at email@example.com.