Million Dollar Baby -
Welcome to Part 3 of the Numbers Game's special series, "Sweeps, the
Universe, and Everything." This week, we're going to muse on the why of an event
that happened earlier this month: CBS's sudden rearrangement of its Friday
schedule, replacing "The Price is Right Million Dollar Spectacular" with "CSI".
Don't get me wrong, I love "CSI"... But still, it's a question that needs an
answer, and so far, CBS isn't willing to give one.
Most likely, though, it's an issue of that all-important X-factor of sweeps:
ad rates. Ad rates that bring in money. Money that helps run the network, thus
being able to bring in MORE TPIR. Among other things.
Now it's no secret that "The Price is Right" is one of the crown jewels in
CBS's daytime schedule. So many awards. So many accolades. So many die-hard
fans. No wonder why CBS is consistently number one in the morning/afternoon. If
you ask anyone born after the mid-70s what they looked forward to on sick days
or summers, a great deal of them could give you the same answer: "The Price is
As of late, that fandom has translated into number one time-slot finishes for
the Million Dollar Spectacular. So far this year, though, they were all on
Saturdays, a day not typically known for TV excess.
So it surprised a lot of folks when CBS
scheduled its third MDS of the season on May 6, a Friday. Not that much of a
stretch from the Saturday slots, but a stretch nonetheless. But enough
conjecture on what we know based on common knowledge. This is, after all, the
Numbers Game, so let's look at the numbers.
The last episode that aired, April 16, saw CBS
remain first in households and total viewers, while Fox's combination of Cops
and America's Most Wanted was No. 1 among adults 18-49. CBS' The Price Is Right
Million Dollar Spectacular opened with a 4.6/10 in households (#1), 7.03 million
viewers (#1) and a 1.4/ 6 among adults 18-49 (#2) at 8p.
As for the one airing previously, April 9, CBS
started strong with "The Price Is Right Million Dollar Spectacular" and didn't
let up, winning each of the night's three hours. Overall, CBS averaged a 5.5
rating/10 share for the night, comfortably ahead of the 4.2/8 for second place
FOX. ABC was third with a 3.4/6, edging the 3.2/6 for NBC.
FOX moved into first among adults 18-49, posting a 2.4 rating in the
all-important demographic. CBS dropped to second with a 2.2 rating, followed by
the 1.5 rating for ABC. NBC trailed again with a 1.4 rating.
At 8 p.m., CBS got a 5.0/10 (for total viewers)
from the primetime "Price Is Right" episode to win the hour.
The specials last year around this time (a
Saturday each for Bob's Hall of Fame induction, Bob's voting rally, colleges,
and teachers) posted similar numbers. If we're going back to 2003, MDSes scored
in excess of 7 or 8 million homes.
Comparing that to "CSI", a megahit franchise for
the network, the answer seems obvious. If I'm using a metaphor, it's the same
reason why Colin & Christie from "Amazing Race 6" chose to go for the last Fast
Forward while they were in the lead. In short, nothing is to be taken to chance.
CBS has been close to the lead this season (only Fox, with its Tuesday lineup,
has been better numberwise), so you need big numbers for big ad rates, do you go
with what works or take a chance?
During a sweeps month, when people take a chance
on movies and specials and such, it seems like CBS chose to go with what works.
Funny thing, though. "The Price is Right" worked last year. Rather well, I must
Part 4 of "Sweeps, The
Universe, and Everything" airs next week, then we're off
for a week or two to recover and get ready to do it all
again for the summer. Until then, remember, the numbers
thinks that a promise of a million dollars should
actually come with a million dollars. Checks can be made
out to firstname.lastname@example.org.