These ain’t the John Walsh days
Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” revival has done some good in nabbing fugitives from justice, but how “wanted” has it really been among Americans (as measured by Nielsen)? The short answer: not very.
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Including one week of (mostly) DVR viewing, the March 15, 2021 season premiere of “America’s Most Wanted” with Elizabeth Vargas as host drew a 0.5 rating among adults 18-49 and (a rounded) 2.8 million total viewers. The following week stayed steady in the key demo, though it shed 221,000 overall viewers. By Week 3, both metrics declined (again, in the case of the viewer tally) and the five-episode comeback solidified itself as a noncompetitive series.
Though the franchise was never really a big TV hit (and spent most of its former life slotted on Saturdays) these numbers place this “America’s Most Wanted” a far cry away from its heyday, when John Walsh hosted. The original “America’s Most Wanted” aired on Fox from 1998 to 2011 before moving to Lifetime for two years. In that final year on Fox, the series, which by then was titled “AMW: America Fights Back,” averaged a 1.7 demo rating and 5.1 million total viewers. The Lifetime version didn’t do so hot, starting off with a 0.4 rating and 1.1 million total viewers.
Thus far this season, “America’s Most Wanted” ranks (un)comfortably outside the Top 100 series on broadcast television, behind even some CW shows. The times, they have a-changed — especially in how television shows are consumed.
The first season of the revival (or 26th overall, depending how you look at it) wrapped up on Monday, when it managed a 0.3 “live” rating among adults 18-49 and 1.5 million total viewers, but not before it helped cuff a pair of cons.
Obviously, we do not yet have enough data to include a week’s worth of delayed viewing for that episode. But we can tell you that, for now, both of those Nielsen snapshots represented lows in the ratings currency company’s Live + Same Day measurement — we’ll see in about 11 days if the episode ticked up materially in the main demo, and just how many DVR viewers it added overall.
The revival has had more success in catching criminals. Last week, days after being featured on Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” reboot, a pair of fugitives were arrested in Madrid.
Alison Gracey and Christopher Jones were on the run for nearly 10 years after they were implicated in the boating death of 36-year-old Aimee Rhoads in 2011. Gracey and Jones, both British citizens, ran a scuba excursion company off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, and according to authorities, were repeatedly informed of major safety problems with the boat that capsized while carrying Rhoads and five other passengers.
Gracey and Jones were featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in a segment that showed a simulator estimating what the couple might look like in present day.
Watch that segment here.
“In the 10 years since ‘America’s Most Wanted’ went off the air, there’s been an explosion in technology,” she said. “People now have an HD camera in their pocket in the form of their phone. And they can instantly take pictures and videos and text us and reach us on social media platforms. It’s just an unbelievable interconnectedness.”