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Compatibility and Ratings: A Look At Two Recent Successes

Lots of people talk about compatibility of two shows, or how thematically and tonally similar the shows are, can impact where they are scheduled and how they rate. Is this true? Well, there are certainly some cases where compatibility has mattered. Here are two recent ratings-based cases of shows that had the ability to do better with one lead-in rather than the other...despite the fact that both lead-ins received similar ratings.

The Goldbergs
In its first season, 80s-themed family sitcom aired Tuesday at 9 on ABC, its lead-in being the new breakout hit Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. The two shows had very little in common, which was made apparent by The Goldbergs' relative stability even when its lead-in went into repeat mode. ABC recognized this by giving this below-average-rated sitcom a spot on their Wednesday comedy rotation. What should be noted here is that SHIELD in 2013-14 averaged a 2.38 A18-49 demo rating. The Middle, the lead-in it would receive in its 2nd season, averaged a 2.06 that same year. Also, at that point, only Suburgatory was able to make a name for itself in that Wednesday at 8:30 time slot.

So what made it such an upgrade? Well, The Middle was a stronger show then than it had ever been in the past, and most importantly, The Goldbergs used elements that were inspired by The Middle, such as the voiceover, the heartfelt message, and the overall family comedy theme. To make sure they didn't completely screw up with this move, ABC decided to give some solid summer promotion to The Goldbergs, but it's not like it wasn't promoted in its first season. Here are the results:


Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
The Goldbergs
April 29, 2014
2.1
1.7
May 6, 2014
1.9
1.3
May 13, 2014
2.0
1.5



The Middle
The Goldbergs
September 24, 2014
2.1
2.4
October 1, 2014
1.9
2.2
October 8, 2014
2.0
2.2

So as you can see, the last three episodes of The Goldbergs' first season received the same-sized lead-in as the first three episodes of its second season. This is certainly one extreme case, but just look at this: one night, it's getting a 1.3 out of a 1.9; next thing you know, that 1.3 turns into a 2.2 with the same-sized lead-in. Unbelievable, right? Well The Goldbergs ended the season up over 30% from its year-ago performance, and was basically a new show in terms of ratings. It's an extreme case, but certainly one that shows compatibility can mean a lot.

Hawaii 5-0
Unlike The Goldbergs, Hawaii 5-0 did not have to change time slots for its compatibility-related ratings bump. It also had more or less the same competition, elimination some of the extraneous factors that may have affected the boost seen in The Goldbergs. Anyways, let's take a look at its performance last year with reality competition show The Amazing Race as its lead-in, and compare it to its ratings with the similarly-rated procedural MacGyver as its lead-in. 


The Amazing Race
Hawaii 5-0
October 9, 2015
1.1
1.1
October 16, 2015
1.1
1.1
October 23, 2015
1.2
1.0



MacGyver
Hawaii 5-0
October 7, 2016
1.1
1.3
October 14. 2016
1.1
1.2
October 21, 2016
1.1
1.2
Many were wondering why of all CBS Friday shows, all of which were pretty steady in the low 1s in the A18-49 demographic last season, the cheapest option was eliminated from the race (pun intended) this season. What they replaced it with is rating absolutely no differently, yet Hawaii 5-0 is up year-to-year in every airing shown in these tables. And this is not to deceive either; the show as a whole is up 17% year-to-year so far, and even went as high as a 1.4 A18-49 demo rating. Despite airing on a Friday, it's currently at 91% of the big 4 non-sports average, compared to 78% last season. And the explanation for this may lie in the fact that people want to watch a procedural after a procedural, and the same can't always be said for viewers of a reality competition series.

These are just two examples. Let us know if you can think of some others!