24
May
10

Desperate Ratings Ploy Fails Miserably

Chalkboard - Judge Me Tender

“Well, your honor, we’ve got plenty of hearsay and conjecture.  Those are kinds of evidence.” – Lionel Hutz

I’ve still never seen the 24 episode of Zombie Simpsons, but it couldn’t have been any more whorish than last night’s extended American Idol promo.  Why anyone would want to watch Simon Cowell pretend to make fun of himself for ten minutes is beyond me, but that was nothing compared to the scene with the rest of the Idol judges.  It would be difficult to imagine a more formulaic, by-the-numbers, and downright lifeless segment.  They had the cast of another television show on, and had them act like themselves.  That would be bad enough by itself but, on top of that, they didn’t do anything but serial monologues, one after another.  They’ve got plenty of celebrity cameos and recycled ideas.  Those are kinds of entertainment, right?

Anyway, the numbers are in and, oh yeah, they’re bad.  Last night’s crossover reminded a mere 5.74 million people that American Idol isn’t the only show that’s worn out its welcome.  That’s the lowest number for a season finale ever, the eighth lowest of all time, and another humiliation for the perpetually humiliated Zombie Simpsons.  If you can’t even get a ratings bump by whoring yourself completely for network cross promotion, how can you get one? 

All told, Season 21 averaged a mere 7.13 million viewers per episode.  That does represent an infinitesimal improvement over Season 20’s 7.12 million viewer average.  But that tiny victory was completely due to the 20th anniversary number from the night of Spurlock’s special.  Without that, the average for Season 21 drops to a pitiful 6.79 million.  Of the ten least watched episodes ever, seven of them came this year, and more than half of Season 21 is in the bottom twenty all time. 

Of course, the show is probably still profitable, even without the merchandising money.  (With the merchandising money it is exceedingly profitable.)  But that doesn’t change the fact that fewer and fewer people every year bother with Zombie Simpsons.  Whether or not FOX thinks it’s damaging the brand by continuing a show few people watch, and even fewer actually like, is up to them.  But the downward trend is irrefutable, and with no big anniversary to help them, Season 22 is certain to become the least watched season ever.  Unless, of course, there’s a Season 23. 


5 Responses to “Desperate Ratings Ploy Fails Miserably”


  1. 1 P. Piggly Hogswine
    24 May 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I’ve been reading with interest your updates on the ratings throughout this season and am sharing your joy at this pitiful effort, Charlie. Enlighten me if you know, what kind of ratings was the show getting when it was at its peak, say season 4/5/6? I’m assuming it was a mile ahead of now.

    • 2 Charlie Sweatpants
      24 May 2010 at 10:08 pm

      I’ll probably write a proper post about it later, but my understanding is that the while network audiences were much larger ten years ago, the show’s decline has been even steeper than network TV in general.

  2. 3 D.N.
    25 May 2010 at 12:19 am

    “I’ve still never seen the 24 episode of Zombie Simpsons, but it couldn’t have been any more whorish than last night’s extended American Idol promo.”

    I haven’t seen the 24 episode either – in fact, I never even knew it existed until I read about it in Jon Ortved’s book (I can’t remember the exact words but I think Ortved described the episode as being a full-on handjob for “24”).

    It is really sad seeing the once-fearless show whoring itself out so desperately, though. Reminds me of the dishevelled Krusty on the street corner holding the WILL DROP PANTS FOR FOOD sign.

  3. 4 P. Piggly Hogswine
    25 May 2010 at 6:21 pm

    The ’24’ episode gets shown here quite often. In fact, a recent user voted top 8 episodes countdown on TV had that at number 7 or 8, unbelievable. I think Lisa’s Substitute came in slightly higher, which made it even more bemusing.

    • 5 D.N.
      25 May 2010 at 7:42 pm

      “The ’24′ episode gets shown here quite often. In fact, a recent user voted top 8 episodes countdown on TV had that at number 7 or 8, unbelievable. I think Lisa’s Substitute came in slightly higher, which made it even more bemusing.”

      Indeed, two more wildly different episodes I cannot imagine. I have my suspicions about those so-called viewer’s choice marathons that Fox 8 runs, though. Mainly because while there are some really strong, classic episodes in there, there are some appalling clunkers chucked in too, episodes I can’t imagine would rate very highly in the opinions of the kind of fans who vote in the likes of “Lisa’s Substitute.” I’d say it’s likely that damn near all of the episodes voted for are classic Simpsons, but Fox 8 feels obliged to sprinkle in some Zombie Simpsons (to make it look like the show’s later episodes are just as popular as the older ones. After all, it’s the later episodes they re-run more frequently).


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