Next time you hear somebody complain that there's nothing to watch on Saturday nights, point them to Saturday, June 13 for an illustration of why networks have abandoned the evening.
For the first time in recent memory, three different networks aired original scripted programming on a Saturday night and the results were uniformly dismal, showing that Saturday viewers would rather watch repeats, bad Eddie Murphy movies or news programming than even the best reviewed drama.
In the 8 p.m. hour, NBC brought back "Kings," continuing a tragic-comic journey from Thursdays to Sundays to in-season Saturdays to Saturdays in the summer. In its first summer airing, "Kings" averaged a 1.1 rating/2 share and under 1.6 million viewers. The drama's 0.3 rating among adults 18-49 was lower than ABC's airing of the theatrical dud "The Haunted Mansion" and CBS' rebroadcast of the already cancelled "Without a Trace." Choose the measure and "Kings" finished fourth for its hour.
The latest Saturday night airing of CBS' "Harper's Island" did far better in the 9 p.m. hour, moving ahead of "The Haunted Mansion" into third place overall with a 2.0/4 and an average viewership of 3.17 million. Even more encouragingly, CBS' murder mystery serial had a 0.8 rating among adults 18-49, beating both the Murphy bomb and NBC's "Law & Order."
At 10 p.m., the series finale of ABC's "Pushing Daisies" had a 1.4/3 and an average viewership of 2.24 million viewers, well below the totals for CBS' "48 Hours Mystery" and NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." One of the most critically adored shows of recent years, "Pushing Daisies" finished third for the hour among adults 18-49 with a 0.7 rating. And yes, it actually declined from its "Haunted Mansion" lead-in in total viewers.
Digging deeper into the numbers, we were actually able to find some slightly encouraging figures for "Pushing Daisies," which won its hour among viewers 12-34, both men and women. No such positive totals exist for "Kings" or "Harper's Island," at least not in Live + Same Day Nielsen figures.
This is why Saturday night TV viewers can't have nice things.
Although NBC has had an itchy trigger finger with "Kings," the drama remains on the network's schedule for this coming Sunday (June 20). "Harper's Island," which continues to perform better in online viewing, will also continue to play out the string. As "Pushing Daisies" has now exhausted its supply of originals, ABC's Summer Burnoff Theatre turns to "Eli Stone" next Saturday night.