- Posted October 7, 2011 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
What are you watching?
Round and Round Ratings Go
Cassandra Crisp and Flo DiBona
© October 7, 2011
With All My Children no longer a part of Disney/ABC’s afternoon delight and The Chew’s debut on September 26, 2011, Disney/ABC was banking on some heavy ratings to come knocking at their Mouse House doors. After months and months of promos, The Chew was dubbed a show where viewers would run to their tables ready to be served some great dishes and mega gab. Disney/ABC and Brian Frons, president of daytime programming, had convinced stockholders and affiliates that key demographics had been clamoring for The Chew-type programming to engage daytime viewers. Disney/ABC claimed viewers were primed and ready to accept The Chew as a bonafide replacement for their beloved All My Children. They made the argument that viewers were ready to sit down in front of their televisions waiting to be served this program format.
Disney/ABC and Brian Frons released a statement to substantiate the validity of The Chew’s projected future success. They made the case to stockholders and affiliates that their key demographics had been clamoring for a program that delivered what The Chew is offering to engage daytime viewers. Brian Frons had said viewers were trainable and would open their arms to The Chew and get onboard with their brand of bringing food to the table far beyond what the Food Network has done.
Is The Chew really ready to set the table and serve viewers with their best dishes? Is The Chew bringing home the ratings that Disney/ABC promised its stockholders, television affiliates and viewers? Does Disney/ABC have justification that their key demographic viewers want a program like The Chew? Does The Chew’s flashy chefs and table etiquette fashion guru bring in the ratings for the time slot vacated by the beloved serial soap, All My Children?
As Brian Frons promised, The Chew broke out of the gates with a bang. In the first 15 minutes. The Chew secured a 3.1 rating in the first 15 minutes. However, in some of the major television markets, the finale episode of All My Children aired simultaneously with The Chew debut. One could argue that this was a classic, calculated move by Disney/ABC to manipulate market numbers and skew ratings to fit their new daytime programming agenda. It could also be argued that in many markets offline viewers tuned in not knowing that All My Children had already aired its last episode.
After the second 15-minute interval, The Chew experienced spiraling drops in numbers. After numerous poor reviews from media and newsprint across the country, The Chew proved it was missing some major ingredients. By the end of its debut week preliminary numbers showed that The Chew was not going to be a breakout for daytime programming. Stockholders, affiliates and viewers were lead to believe the numbers were very different for The Chew based on the Disney/ABC press release. You be the judge.
Facts and numbers do not lie. However, when those facts and numbers are manipulated the result is no longer a fact and no longer the truth. Isn’t it a crime to falsely report the performance of an asset? Per Disney/ABC’s press release, "The Chew" Eats Up Ratings Success.” However, reported viewership (2.5 million) and actual viewership (2.4 million for the Monday debut and a 2.16 million average for the debut week) show a substantial gap between Disney/ABC’s triumphant announcement and the truth.
The Disney/ABC press release went on to claim, “Moreover, "The Chew" exceeded "All My Children's" 2010/11 season averages in Total Viewers (2.5 million vs 2.4 million) and Women 18-49 (590,000/0.9 rating vs 541,000/0.8 rating).” In reality this is comparing apples to oranges, comparing a season average to an inflated and distorted one-day debut figure. To contrast this, for the week of September 19th through the 23rd, All My Children well exceeded The Chew’s September 26th through September 30th debut weekly average (2.99 million vs 2.17 million) and Women 18-49 (689,000/1.1 rating vs 590,000/0.9 rating). The final All My Children episode had a 3.475 million viewership compared to The Chew debut at 2.4 million.
The Chew Debut Viewership Reported versus Actual
The Chew Viewership
Actual Weekly Average
All My Children Performance versus The Chew
Average Total Viewers
Women 18-49 Rating
Women 18-49 Viewers
All My Children
*Final All My Children episode versus debut The Chew episode
The Chew First Week Performance
The Chew Viewership
Disney-Reported 1st Day
Actual Weekly Average
After dismal reviews by a multitude of critics, and more importantly their targeted demographic not bothering to watch, The Chew did not bring it to the table. Ratings breakdowns prove The Chew is not the recipe for drawing viewership to the vacant time slot left in the ABC daytime lineup. Yet, on October 4, 2011, Brian Frons promoted Randall Barone who worked to develop The Chew for over a year and half, to Vice President, Programming & Development, ABC Daytime. This continues to demonstrate the millions of dollars stockholders and affiliates are losing due to the consistently poor business decisions of Brian Frons and Disney/ABC.
What is the common denominator in the continuous problems with the ABC daytime programming schedule? The buck stops at the doorstep of Brian Frons. The daytime vision of Mr Frons is not working. Millions of viewers have been alienated from Disney/ABC due to the cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live. Now, the last remaining Disney/ABC daytime serial drama, General Hospital, is facing imminent catastrophe under Mr Frons’ leadership. With the clear message The Chew ratings bring, it is obvious that the leadership of Mr Frons is not working.
Questions to the validity of Disney/ABC and Brian Frons’ statements are showing up across social media outlets. On Twitter, Gailg tweeted, “Frons' Flopped Folly the Chew's ratings are so low. Did he improperly inflate its ratings for Disney ABC Press Releases? How long will Frons be allowed to continue to tarnish the Disney Brand and prop up the Chew at the expense of daytime icons One Live to Live and General Hospital?”
Stockholders and affiliates should be getting nervous, very nervous. The vision of Brian Frons is costing more than just viewers. It is costing substantial revenue and dividends with the millions of dollars Disney/ABC is heavily sinking into advertising space promoting The Chew with little success. It is also clear that ratings manipulation is not beneath Disney/ABC or Mr Frons.
Disney/ABC could gain by reevaluating or retooling the licensing agreement made with Prospect Park for All My Children and One Life to Live. By allowing these shows to be syndicated and distributed through the license agreement, affiliates could option these shows in strong markets and it would provide the opportunity for other networks to air the shows. This solution would increase revenue, provide affiliate opportunities, and allow the possibility of viewers getting what they really want – to see the shows Disney/ABC cancelled. With ABC daytime golden child General Hospital also suffering from Brian Frons’ daytime programming vision it would make great business sense for Disney/ABC to license or sell General Hospital outright to Prospect Park or a third-party. But the best business decision Disney/ABC could make with regard to its daytime programming, affiliates, stockholders, and profits would be to fire Brian Frons. Questions abound for Disney/ABC to answer to their stockholders, affiliates and viewers. Round and round ratings go – where ratings stop – only Disney/ABC knows.