Nielsen NotesHow New Girl' on Fox Lost Its Ratings Mojo
By Bill Carter, The New York Times
' 'Media Decoder' Blog - Mar. 28, 2012
What's happened to New Girl? The Fox sitcom that exploded at the start of the fall season with bona fide hit ratings has moved into a pattern that is approaching a tailspin.
The latest episode of New Girl on Tuesday night plunged to its lowest numbers yet, a 2.5 rating among the 18- to 49-year-old audience that Fox sells to most advertisers and only 4.89 million total viewers.
It was the eighth week in a row that the show has seen its audience decline. In terms of total audience, New Girl, which stars Zooey Deschanel in the title role, attracted far less than half as many viewers this week as saw its premiere in September, 10.28 million viewers.
The show opened the season with a 4.8 rating in that 18-49 audience, a spectacular debut. It stayed above a 4 rating in that group for its first three episodes, which ran consecutively from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4.
Then the decline began, and it is not hard to trace a major reason why. Just as New Girl was establishing some hit momentum with those first three episodes, Fox removed the show from the air for a month. The next New Girl episode came on Nov. 1. The show fell that week from a 4.3 rating for its Oct. 4 episode to a 3.6 in that 18-49 category and lost more than 1.2 million viewers from the previous episode.
The comedy remained relatively stable through January, but then the plunge began. Some of the decline has been related to the falloff in the shows that have preceded it from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Glee has seen its one-time hit numbers slide this year; since that show went on hiatus on Feb. 21, the lead-in to New Girl has been worse.
Fox installed two comedies Raising Hope and I Hate My Teenage Daughter from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., to substitute for Glee. But Teenage Daughter was so thoroughly rejected by audiences (and critics, who hated it much worse than the characters hated their offspring) that Fox canceled the show and now uses repeats of Raising Hope at 8:30. These draw puny ratings. That hurts New Girl at 9.
But the explanation for the comedy's disappointing ratings after those first three episodes centers on the scheduling decision that yanked the show off the air for a month, just as it was settling in with viewers. Fox made the move partly to accommodate post-season baseball, but mainly to protect another show.
For several weeks, The X-Factor the new singing competition on Fox, inherited the Tuesday slot that belonged to New Girl because Fox feared breaking the weekly pattern of the reality show during its baseball coverage. The move did preserve the ratings for X-Factor, but it may have come at the cost of New Girl, which seems never to have recovered fully from that separation from its early fans.
The hope for a turnaround for New Girl now rests with the return of Glee on April 10. The comedy is in no danger of not being ordered for a second season, but if it doesn't bounce back with a better show in front of it, the great prospects it showed in its first three episodes may dim considerably.http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.co...ref=television