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September 21, 2014

Burn Notice premiere sizzles in the Nielsens

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 14th 2008 1:43PM
Burn Notice sandNumbers don't lie -- although some people can manipulate them -- but in all the ways that matter for television, the second season debut for USA's Burn Notice was a 100% hit. The spy caper-drama did something that brings smiles to the lips of all cable execs, it beat first run episodes of ABC and CBS programs.

I'm generally not a numbers person. (I freely admit that I sucked at algebra.) However, the Burn Notice success in Nielsen ratings and key demographics -- 1.8 rating/6 share among adults 18-49 and approximately 5.4 million viewers overall -- is impressive. It built on last season's numbers considerably -- 35% in viewership.

And in case you didn't know it, Burn Notice was already a hit. It bested AMC's Mad Men by a five-to-one margin in 2007. Mad Men got the critically plaudits and attention, more than Burn, but BN was the more substantial ratings success.

To me, there are a couple of reasons for the Burn Notice boom. First, it's a damn good show and the viewing public has had a chance to find and appreciate the show since last the summer of 2007.

The other part is the aggressive, dare I say over-the-top, promotion by USA. The folks at Conan O'Brien's show thought it was too much, and they didn't even comment on the sand castle competition Times Square. Check out the picture! Also, programming the first season marathon on USA in anticipation of the premiere was expected, and smart, but so was putting The Bourne Identity on right before the debut. Somebody is using their gray matter in USA's management.

The bottom line, however, is this: promotion will only get a show -- or movie, book, Broadway play -- so far. If Burn Notice doesn't deliver the goods, the interested eyeballs will tune out and not return. In my opinion, the second season premiere of Burn Notice was excellent. It continues to be one of the best, most enjoyable shows on the tube.

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trtlsoup2001

It's become my new all-time favorite show. The cast is phenomenal, and they work so well together.

July 15 2008 at 2:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Franklin

I'm glad to hear Burn Notice is doing so well. Usually a show I like as much as I'm liking BN will get cancelled within a few episodes or at best not survive beyond the first season.

July 14 2008 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
robert

pretty much everyone i know who watches started because bruce campbell was back on tv and then got hooked... never underestimate the power of the chin

July 14 2008 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nathaniel

Huh. I read the title, and by "sizzles" I thought you meant failed horribly... as in, like burn to death or something. Glad to know I was wrong. Also, I haven't caught up yet but want to. Haven't seen a single episode.

July 14 2008 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jesus

Numbers don't lie? When they come to statistics, they certainly do. Especially when talking about Nielsen's.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Lie-Statistics-Darrell-Huff/dp/0393310728

From Wiki:

"Since viewers are aware of being part of the Nielsen sample, it can lead to bias in recording and viewing habits. Another criticism of the measuring system itself is that it fails the most important criteria of a sample: it is not random in the statistical sense of the word. Only a small fraction of the population is selected and only those that actually accept are used as the sample size.

In many local areas, the difference between a rating that keeps a show on the air and one that will cancel it is so small as to be statistically insignificant, and yet the show that just happens to get the higher rating will survive. Worse, as the possible choices increases so does the margin of error resulting in the sampling sizes being too small.

Another criticism of the Nielsen ratings system is its lack of a system for measuring television audiences in environments outside the home, such as college dormitories, transport terminals, bars, and other public places where television is frequently viewed, often by large numbers of people in a common setting. "

July 14 2008 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

Burn Notice deserves all the success it is getting, 100%. Hopefully the ratings won't dip too much this week.

July 14 2008 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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