Here comes the bride, and there goes the basic-cable competition
Now that TLC’s “90 Day Fiance” is back with its seventh season, which premiered Sunday, everything on ad-supported basic cable not named “The Walking Dead” is dead.
And really, they were pretty much all comparatively gasping for air already. Ah, love.
The series about (very) long-distance couples taking advantage of the K-1 visa process has spawned what feels like a dozen spinoffs, and those offshoots have pretty much been dominating in Nielsen ratings early on in the fall TV season, which technically started on Sept. 23, 2019. And the unlikely “universe” is already paying dividends — literally — for parent company Discovery.
For starters, the two episodes of TLC’s “Tell All” companion to series “90 Day Fiance: The Other Way” (Mondays at 8 p.m.) averaged a 0.84 among adults 18-49 in Nielsen’s Live + Same Day ratings, the exact same number as five episodes of Sundays-at-8 p.m. show “90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days.”
With three-day lifts, those two series grew to a 1.22 rating (+46%) and a 1.18 (+40%), respectively.
Three episodes of “90 Day Fiance: The Other Way” have averaged a 0.74 Live + Same Day rating in the key demo, which grew to a 1.12 rating 72 hours later — a +52% lift. (We’re using past tense here because “Before the 90 Days” Season 3 ended on Oct. 28, while Season 1 of “The Other Way” ran its finale a week earlier.)
That means the “90 Day Fiance” franchise, not even counting the original series that just returned, occupied 3 of the Top 5 spots across all of ad-supported basic cable’s entertainment programming. That holds true whether you look at Live + Same Day ratings or the delayed-viewing ones.
(If you’re wondering why we broke out those “Tell All” episodes above and below, the answer is because that’s what Nielsen does based on TLC’s coding.)
Only “The Walking Dead,” which airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on AMC, tops the three ad-supported basic cable shows in Nielsen’s Live + Same Day ratings. The zombie-apocalypse drama is averaging a 1.26 rating on Sundays, which grows 55% to a 1.97 three days later.
Yes, “Walking Dead” is still No. 1 on cable despite some big season-to-season declines.
FX’s “American Horror Story,” which airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m., is the other show in the mix here, though really only when one includes DVR viewing. Thus far, this season, which is titled “1984,” has averaged a 0.61 Live + Same Day rating — a stat that skyrockets +130% to a 1.41 in Live + 3 Day Ratings, shoehorning “AHS” between “The Walking Dead” and those “90 Day Fiance” spinoffs.
In Live + Same Day ratings, Sunday’s start had a 0.65 among adults 18-49 and 2.088 million total viewers. We’ll get Live + 3 Day ratings for Season 7 premiere of regular ol’ “90 Day Fiance” later on Friday.
It’s important to note that we’re only focusing on primetime entertainment series here. Several live sports telecasts have performed better than the “90 Day Fiance” shows, which is to be expected.
WWE’s “Monday Night Raw” on USA Network, which is a hybrid sports-entertainment program, has averaged a 0.77 “live” rating, which grows to a 0.88 a few days later. “Raw” outranks “90 Day Fiance: The Other Way” in Live + Same Day ratings, but not after a few days of DVR viewing is factored in.
The “90 Day” shows are also beasts on digital and social — especially “Before the 90 Days.” The heavy Twitter-trending series also broke the TLC Go app’s record of most weekly minutes watched for a single program last week, we’re told, thanks in part to those “Tell All” episodes.
In terms of total viewers, the Top 4 entertainment-only rankings (a few cable news shows would enter here otherwise) is essentially the same as what we see from the demo. Discovery’s “Gold Rush” gets in at No. 5 if you rank cable by Live + 3 Day numbers.
(WWE’s “Monday Night Raw,” with 2.347 million “live” viewers would beat it in Live + Same Day rankings, but that doesn’t hold with three days of DVR catchup.)
“Horror Story” comes in at No. 6 thanks to its huge delayed-viewing lift. Here are the rankings in Live + 3 Day viewers, with Live + Same Day also noted:
- “The Walking Dead” (3.578 million Live + SD viewers, 5.341 million in L+3)
- “Tell All” episodes of “90 Day Fiance: The Other Way” (2.757 million L+SD viewers, 3.655 million in L+3)
- “90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days” (2.905 million L+SD viewers, 3.625 million in L+3)
- “90 Day Fiance: The Other Way” (2.409 million L+SD viewers, 3.250 million in L+3)
- “Gold Rush” (2.094 million L+SD viewers, 2.972 million in L+3)
- “American Horror Story: 1984” (1.312 million L+SD viewers, 2.947 million in L+3)
We bolded the “90 Day Fiance” slots to draw the eye, and also, frankly, because they earned it.