It was hard to be a new television program by and large on Sunday night, especially one that aired at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. Let’s just try to paint the situation for you here: The American Music Awards were on the air, as was a high-rated NFL game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. Just to add that much more competition, you also had the highest-rated show on TV in “The Walking Dead,” and the season 4 finale of “Boardwalk Empire.” This is without even mentioning “Homeland” or “Family Guy,” which made a huge move this weekend in killing off a main character.
The surprise to us personally was that the 2013 AMAs managed to be such a ratings monster, especially given that we didn’t really think that they had that much buzz going in. But the show posted its highest ratings in four years with a monster 4.5 figure in the 18-49 demographic, and also close to 13 million viewers. The great lineup of performers, which included Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons, and even the surviving members of TLC was likely a big reason why.
While some of the numbers for CBS were a little scrambled courtesy of football starting late, it’s pretty clear that this competition took a huge toll on their programming. Both “The Amazing Race” and “The Good Wife” were hit hard, but “The Mentalist” seems to be have posted its highest rating (a preliminary 1.5) in months with the big episode that featured the reveal of Red John. The flip side of this is that people who tune in to watch these “event” episodes rarely stick around to see what happens later. A good example of that is the Cory Monteith tribute episode of “Glee” from earlier this year.
In other proof that the competition was damaging to regular programming, “Family Guy” only got a 2.2 for its big episode, though we blame some of that on marketing. Had they advertised more than a popular character was going to die, the numbers would have probably been higher.