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October 24, 2014

Did Obama Ruin 'Off the Map' Premiere Ratings?

by Chris Harnick, posted Jan 13th 2011 3:30PM
Off the MapNot many viewers found ABC's new medical drama 'Off the Map.' The Shonda Rhimes-produced show only pulled in 7.5 million viewers for its premiere.

Is President Obama to blame?

Obama spoke live from the Arizona memorial service, interrupting each major network's night of programming. However, ABC was the only network attempting to launch a new series.

After Obama's speech and a new episode of 'Modern Family,' ABC subbed in 10 minutes of a 'Modern Family' rerun to ensure 'Off the Map' got started at 10PM. A strange, but smart move because of DVR usage and the barrage of promotion the network gave the new series.

However, most of the other networks went with reruns. Over on NBC, the Peacock aired 'Minute to Win It' and news coverage of the Arizona speech, followed by a new 'Law & Order: SVU' at 10PM. According to Entertainment Weekly, 'SVU' brought in 2.5 million viewers between 18-49 and 8.3 million total.

CBS aired reruns of 'The Big Bang Theory' and 'Rules of Engagement,' followed at 9PM by a new 'Live to Dance' and Obama. The Abdul/Obama pairing brought in around 6 million viewers in the 9-10PM hour. The reality dance competition bled into 'The Defenders' at 10PM slot, pulling in close to 7 million for the hour.

Fox pulled 'Human Target' and aired two reruns of 'Raising Hope' from 8-9PM, which netted 3.2 million and 2.3 million viewers. Its Fox News coverage of the memorial and 'Kitchen Nightmares' from 9-10PM brought in 2.5 million. The unaired new episode of 'Human Target' will air on Friday.

Of course ABC hadn't planned to have its big premiere on the same day as a presidential news conference. In an attempt to grab additional eyes, the network is re-airing the 'Off the Map' pilot after 'Grey's Anatomy' tonight. According to Variety, 'Off the Map' will take the place of 'Private Practice' at 10PM, pushing the previously-scheduled 'Private Practice' episode to Feb. 3.

Let's compare 'Off the Map' to Rhimes' other medical drama debuts: 'Grey's Anatomy's' premiere was seen by 16.3 million viewers, 'Private Practice' by 14.4 million viewers. It's important to note 'Private Practice' has the explicit 'Grey's Anatomy' tie with Kate Walsh, whereas 'Off the Map' is just from the same producers and not a spin-off.

So, did the ratings suffer because of the press conference? Would 'Off the Map's' premiere done better had the schedule not been upended? The real test will be how many more eyes watch tonight and during week two.

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