Ratings for "Once Upon a Time"

Lana Parrilla onceuponatimeabc.filminspector.com
The Evil Queen

Episode Ratings

Below is a list of episodes and their ratings. The show has been one of the top performers on Sunday nights since its inception and invariably wins its time slot in the key demographics.

Note that the first numbers, e.g. 3.0/8, mean that in the key 18-49 year-old demographic, 3.0% of all such people watched the show, and 8% of those in that age bracket actually watching TV at the time were tuned in.  The last number, e.g. 8.95, means there were 8.95 million viewers total for that particular episode.  I occasionally include the show's rank among all shows for that week at the end if it is significant, which was the case for much of the first season. Even when OUaT scores 'low' in the ratings, it often is the highest show in its time slot unless there is a football game or something like that.

These numbers get adjusted all over the place until they become "final." I tried to get final numbers as much as possible, but some of these ratings may be "preliminary." Even so, they still are close to the final numbers (within .01 or .02 at most). Ratings are most useful for catching trends in viewership, one week's ratings don't mean much except as it is part of a larger trend.

ORIGINAL EPISODE RATINGS ONLY

No. Title Air date 18–49 Rating Viewers (Weekly rank if high that week)

Season One

1 "Pilot" October 23, 2011 4.0 12.93 #13
2 "The Thing You Love Most" October 30, 2011 3.9 11.74 #18
3 "Snow Falls" November 6, 2011 3.8 11.45 #24
4 "The Price of Gold" November 13, 2011 3.8 11.36 #18
5 "That Still Small Voice" November 27, 2011 3.4 10.69 #14
6 "The Shepherd" December 4, 2011 3.2 9.66 #21
7 "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" December 11, 2011 2.9 8.91 #25
8 "Desperate Souls" January 8, 2012 3.7 10.35 #18
9 "True North" January 15, 2012 3.3 9.83 #18
10 "7:15 A.M." January 22, 2012 3.2 9.33 #24
11 "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" January 29, 2012 3.5 10.91 #14
12 "Skin Deep" February 12, 2012 3.0 8.65 #20
13 "What Happened to Frederick" February 19, 2012 3.1 9.84 #23
14 "Dreamy" March 4, 2012 3.4 10.67 #16[
15 "Red Handed" March 11, 2012 2.9/8 9.81
16 "Heart of Darkness" March 18, 2012 2.9/8 8.69
17 "Hat Trick" March 25, 2012 2.9/8  8.82
18 "Stable Boy" April 1, 2012  2.8/8  8.36
19 "The Return" 3.0/8 9.08
20 "The Stranger" 3.0/9 9.20
21 "An Apple Red as Blood"  3.0/8 8.95
22 "A Land Without Magic" 3.3/10 9.66

Season Two

23 "Broken" September 30 2012 3.9/10  11.36
24 "We are Both"  October 7 2012    3.4/9  9.84


25 "Lady of the Lake" October 14 2012 3.0/8  9.45
26. "The Crocodile" October 21 2012 3.3/8   9.7
27 "The Doctor" October 28 2012   3.4/8 9.7
28 "Tallahassee" November 4 2012  3.5/8 10.1
29 "Child of the Moon" November 11 2012 2.7/7 8.69
30 "Into the Deep"  November 25 2012 3.0/7     8.8
31 "Queen of Hearts" December 2 2012 3.1/7  9.1
32 "The Cricket Game" January 6 2013 3.1/8  9.04
33 "The Outsider" January 13 2013 2.8/7 8.15
34 "In the Name of the Brother" January 20 2.4/ 6  7.71
35 "Tiny" February 10 2013 2.2/5 7.08
36  "Manhattan" February 17 2.3/6 7.5
37. "The Queen is Dead" March 3 2013 2.1/6 7.22
38. "The Miller's Daughter" March 10 2013 2.3/6 7.64
39  "Welcome to Storybrooke" March 17 2013 2.3/6 7.45
40  "Selfless, Brave and True" March 24 2013 2.1/6 7.3
41  "Lacey" April 21 2.1/6 7.37
42  "The Evil Queen" April 28 2013 2.0/6 7.16
43  "Straight on 'Til Morning" May 5 2013 2.2 6 7.39
44.  "Second Star to the Right" May 12 2013 2.3 7 7.33

Season Three

45. "The Heart of the Truest Believe" Sept. 29 2013 2.6/7 8.5 million #24
46. "Lost Girl" October 6 2013 2.6/7 8 million #25
47. "Quite a Common Fairy" October 13 2013 2.3/6  7.4 million #23
48. "Nasty Habits" October 20 2013 2.1/5 7.05 million
49. "Good Form" October 27 2013 2.2/6 7.23 million
50. "Ariel" November 3 2013 2.3/6 7.6 million
51. "Dark Hollow" November 10, 2013  2.1/5 6.64 million
52. “Think Lovely Thoughts” November 17, 2013 1.9/5 6.66 million
53. “Save Henry” December 1, 2013 1.9/5 6.64 million
54. “The New Neverland” December 8, 2013 2.1/5 6.94 million
55. "Going Home" December 15, 2013 1.9/5 6.44 million
56. "New York City Serenade" March 9, 2014 2.4/7 7.66 million
57. "Witch Hunt" March 16, 2014  2.4/7 7.75 million
58. "The Tower" March 23, 2014 2.1/6 6.91 million
59. "Quiet Minds" March 30, 2014 2.1/6 6.64 million
60. "It's Not Easy Being Green" April 6, 2014 2.4/6 7.26 million
61. "The Jolly Roger" April 13, 2014 2.0/6 6.50 million
62. "Bleeding Through" April 20, 2014 1.7/5 5.95 million
63. "A Curious Thing" April 27, 2014 2.2/6 7.34 million
64. "Kansas" May 4 2014 2.1/6 6.86 million
65. "Snow Drifts" May 11 2014 2.3/7 6.80 million
66. "There's No Place Like Home" May 11 2014 2.3/7 6.80 million

Season Four

67. “A Tale of Two Sisters” Sept. 28 2014 3.5/11 10.2 million
68. “White Out” October 5, 2014  3.1/9 in 18-49, 8.6 million
69. "Rocky Road" October 12, 2014  2.6/7 in 18-49, 7.7 million
70. "The Apprentice" October 19, 2014 2.7/7 7.9 million
71. "Breaking Glass" October 26, 2014 2.3/6 in 18-49   6.6 million
72. "Family Business" November 2, 2014 2.5/6 7.7 million
73. "The Snow Queen" November 9, 2014 2.5/7 7.4 million
74/75. "Smash the Mirror" November 16 2.4/6 6.6 million (2 hour)
76.   "Fall" November 30 2014 2.0/5 6.3 million
77.  "Shattered Sight" December 7 2014 2.0/5 6.2 million
78. "Heroes and Villains" December 14 2014 1.7/5 5.6 million
79. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" March 1 2015 2.2/6 6.6 million
80. "Unforgiven" March 8 2015   2.1/6   6.60 million
81. "Enter the Dragon" March 15 2015  1.8/6 5.88
82. "Poor Unfortunate Soul"   March 22 2015   1.9/6   5.79
83. "Best Laid Plans"   March 29 2015       1.7/6 5.48
84. "Heart of Gold"  April 12 2015
85. "Sympathy for the De Vil" April 19 2015

Commentary

Season Four (September 28, 2014):

Fueled by its "Frozen" tie-in, the fourth season opener of "Once Upon a Time" earned its highest numbers in 2 years – since 9/30/12. In addition, the show hit new series highs with Teens and Kids. The ABC drama also outperformed its year-ago season opener in Total Viewers (+20%) and Adults 18-49 (+42%). The final rating came in at 3.5, a smashing success.

On October 5, 2014, the series' second episode of Season Four, “Once Upon a Time” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall), was the night’s top entertainment series in 18-49 and 25-54 (3.3/8). It was down 9% from its week-ago prelim score in 18-49 (3.4), which shot up to a 3.7 in the nationals, but this still is the show’s second best rating since January 2013. If it follows the pattern of past years, it will continue dropping from here, falling to a plateau this fall in the low 2s, then drop further in the spring. Note that it has dropped a lot faster in 2014 than it did in 2012, when it last hit the heights of its Season Four premiere (this time due to the "Frozen" characters effect).

The third week of the season saw the preliminary numbers come back to earth after the first two weeks of the season were spiked by storylines involving the popular "Frozen" characters. Ratings were down about 20% from the previous week (3.3) but still up 8% from the previous year (2.4).

Five weeks in, with episode 'Breaking Glass,' Once Upon A Time (8-9pm – 6.6 million and 2.3/6 in AD18-49):  Nearly quadrupling its Adult 18-49 lead-in at 8pm (+283%), ABC’s Once Upon A Time outdelivered its regular 8pm CBS drama competition, beating Madam Secretary (which shifted to the 9pm hour due to the NFL overrun) by 53%  (2.3/6 vs. 1.5/4).

For the November 2 episode "Family Business," ABC’s Once Upon A Time was up from its week-ago airing in Total Viewers (+6% - 7.3 million vs. 6.9 million) and Adults 18-49 (+4% - 2.5/6 vs. 2.4/6). Once Upon A Time built on its year-ago telecast for the 6th consecutive week in Adults 18-49 (2.3/6 on 11/3/13) and season to date, the ABC drama is up 16% over the same point last year (3.6/10 vs. 3.1/9).

Deep into Season Four as of 9 November 2014, the ratings continue to grow from the previous year's ratings. Once Upon A Time grew from its year-ago telecast for the 7th straight week in Adults 18-49 (+19% - 2.1/5 on 11/10/13) and season to date, the ABC drama is up 13% over the same point last year. Either the 'Frozen' effect remains in place, or Season 3 was god-awful.

For November 16 2014:  Once Upon A Time grew from its year-ago telecast (+26%) for the 8th consecutive week in Adults 18-49 (1.9/5 on 11/17/13). It was a two-hour episode (the show is off for Thanksgiving) and season to date, the ABC drama is trending 13% ahead of the same point last year. Thus, so far 'OUaT' is holding its early gains from the 'Frozen' effect that began the year.

December 14: Over on ABC, there were the unsurprising ends and new beginnings of a sort on the Once Upon A Time (1.7/5) fall finale last night. There was a lot of gravity at play as well as OUAT was down 15% from last week in fast nationals to a series low. It was also down 10% from the December 15, 2013 OUAT fall finale of last year.

Overall, the series was up 13% over the previous year's ratings for the first half - which has traditionally provided the series' best ratings for the year. That is a good showing, due to the 'Frozen' storyline. However, the Thanksgiving one-week break appeared to really hurt the show's audience, and the final three showings found substantially fewer viewers than the earlier episodes. That the first half finale did so poorly - it was used to introduce new villains who will dominate the spring episodes - may be a bad omen for the spring showings.

**************Midseason Break**************

1 March 2015: Once Upon A Time (8-9pm – 6.6 million and 2.2/6 in AD18-49):  Jumping over its lead-in by 69% at 8pm, ABC’s mid-season return of Once Upon A Time ranked #1 in the 8pm hour in Adults 18-49 (2.2/6), beating Fox’s comedies by 22% (1.8/5 – The Simpsons/Brooklyn 9-9) and CBS’ return of Madam Secretary by 69% (1.3/4).  Building by double digits from its December finale (5.7 million and 1.7/5 on 12/14/14) in Total Viewers (+16%) and Adults 18-49 (+29%), Once Upon A Time marked its strongest results since mid-November – since 11/16/14.

While there is a lot to be happy about regarding the 1 March 2015 ratings, and the show is not in any sort of trouble, the ratings were still down significantly from the spring premiere in 2014, with a million fewer viewers overall. Still, not bad for a show in its fourth season.

Ratings dropped after the Spring 2015 premiere. However, overall the series is still 13% ahead of 2014.

On Sunday 29 March 2015, the series ratings tied a series low. However, they also tied for the lead for that time slot. Sundays are just very weak, especially in the spring.


Season Three (September 29, 2013):

At ABC, the special “Once Upon a Time: Journey to Neverland” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall) was followed by the third-season premiere of “Once Upon a Time” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall), which came in down 33% from its year-ago opener but above all episodes from the second half of last season. These numbers, though, don't tell the whole story, because many, many people record the show and watch it later.

Based on Nielsen’s Live + 3 Day playback data for Sunday, the season opener of ABC’s Once Upon A Time emerged as Sunday’s #1 broadcast series in Adults 18-49, leapfrogging over Fox’s NFL-led premiere of "The Simpsons" to lead by 9% in the L+3 numbers (3.5 rating vs. 3.2 rating). The ABC drama grew from its Live + Same Day numbers to 10.3 million viewers (+1.8 million – 10.3 million vs. 8.5 million) and a 3.5 rating in Adults 18-49 (+0.9 rating points – 2.6 rating vs. 3.5 rating).

A note here about the playback numbers versus actual ratings: the ratings are the most important thing regarding renewals and cancellations and so forth. When people play back shows to watch them later, they often fast-forward through commercials, and audiences know this. There is a separate number known as C+3 that measures this (there are lots of other numbers, too, such as L+7), but that's getting too technical for average viewers. The bottom line is that playback numbers are not meaningless, but they are decidedly less important than the actual broadcast Nielsen ratings when a larger fraction of people watch the commercials. On the other hand, coming in as the top broadcast series for the night always is a good thing.

Final ratings for Episode 3x02 "Lost Girl" were adjusted up to a 2.6 Demo and 8 million viewers. The third episode of the season pulled in 7.36 million viewers according to the initial overnights, scoring a 2.3 in the 18-49 demographic. The series continues to be the top scripted show on Sunday nights.

After the "Tinkerbell" episode, "Quite a Common Fairy," aired on October 13, 2013 and did well, with a strong 7.53 million viewers, ratings sagged a bit for a few weeks. However, they bounced back nicely on November 3, 2013, when “Once Upon A Time” was up for the 2nd week in viewers (+6%) and young adults (+5%) to deliver 3-week highs – since 10/13/13. Fan favorite Ariel the Little Mermaid was introduced on this episode.

Mid-Fall Note: "Once Upon a Time" may not have spectacular overnight ratings, but it has remained the top scripted show on Sunday nights. It also has held a steady, if not quite stunningly large, audience in the face of fierce football competition. Another strong point in the show's favor is that it consistently performs extremely well in the ratings that are calculated days later, after DVR viewings are counted in. While those ratings are not considered quite as important as overnights because viewers watching recorded programs tend to skip the commercials, they aren't meaningless, either. While no longer receiving ratings in the "3"s, the show remains consistently within each week's top 25 shows, which is not bad for a tough Sunday night slot. It is tough to see how ABC could replace "Once Upon a Time" and expect to get anywhere near the same level of consistent performance from another show. It is good counter-programming for the sports-oriented fare on competing stations. The main danger is what happens in the coming spring - fairytale stories tend to do best during the holiday season, and "Once" has seen serious ratings erosion during that time throughout its run.

On November 10, 2013, Once Upon A Time scored a tied its season low with a 2.1 down 9 percent from last week's 2.3 adults 18-49 rating. While those numbers will be adjusted higher for DVR play, they represent a drop-off from the well-received episode introducing fan-favorite Ariel the little mermaid.

The final few episodes of 2013 generally had poor initial ratings in the 1.9/5 area. Those are good, but not nearly as spectacular as during the first season. It is important to point out that when you factor in delayed viewing, the ratings are much higher. For instance, for the "Going Home" wind-up episode of December 2013, DVR playback added 2.50 million viewers. The episode was watched by a total of 8.94 million viewers with an 18-49 rating of 3.1. Those are good numbers - but delayed viewing is not valued as highly as the overnights.

Approaching it objectively, it appears that "Once Upon a Time" should be in no fear of cancellation in 2014 despite the drop-off of viewers both during each season and from season to season. This is in part due to the ratings themselves, which are mediocre but survivable, the fact that the show is good counter-programming to football which attracts a lot of delayed viewers, and the fact that Sunday nights are simply tough nights for ABC in general.

If the ratings don't dramatically deteriorate in March/April 2014, the serious should be good to go for season four.

The March return of "Once" with "New York City Serenade" saw its best ratings since the second week of the season. It won its time slot, at least among the 18-49 demo, but "Resurrection" at 9 p.m. had super-high ratings. Even then, though, having the second-highest ratings of all the networks on the night gives ABC a powerhouse Sunday night, which should please the executives. Should continue its success, there's always the possibility that ABC will flip the two series and put "Once" at 9 p.m., though that might cause problems with "Once's" young fan base.

March 30 2014 episode "Quiet Minds": Once Upon a Time (8-9pm - 6.5 million and 2.1/6 in AD18-49): Spiking over its lead-in at 8pm (+75%) to move ahead of CBS' NCAA Basketball-boosted programming (60 Minutes/Amazing Race = 2.0/6), ABC's Once Upon a Time (2.0/6) won its hour for the 4th straight week among Adults 18-49, beating Fox's comedies by 5% (The Simpsons/Family Guy = 2.0/6) and NBC's American Dream Builders by 163% (0.8/2). The ABC drama held even week to week with young adults. Once Upon a Time was the #1 most social series on broadcast Sunday night with 55,449 tweets.

Ratings have held up through April 2014 about as well as they've been. A blip down on April 20 to a 1.7 rating and below 6 million total viewers proved to be an outlier, and the series generally is cruising toward the two-episode finale with the usual ~2/6 rating and ~7 million viewers. "Kansas," the penultimate Sunday showing, held the season average of 2.1/6 going into the two-part finale on May 11, 2014.

The two-hour season 3 finale saw a small uptick in viewers, to 2.3/7, 6.80 million over the course of the two hours. While this may not seem all that spectacular, it did create a bit of buzz because the rating and share (but not total viewers) matched the season finale for season 2. While not the first time a series has done that, it is a good indication that "Once Upon a Time" has found its core audience which will stick with it week after week, at least unless something changes with the show that viewers don't like. The ratings appear to have hit a plateau after falling steady during the first two years of the series' run, which is a very good sign that "Once Upon a Time" will be around for a long time.

While the days of '3' ratings may be past (last hit January 6, 2013), shows on weak nights like Sundays can survive quite nicely with 2 ratings. While the guest stars help, the unexpected (and to some, inexplicable) rise of the Hook character and his romance with Emma may have helped keep this show going.



Season Two (September 30, 2012):

The season premiere was a resounding ratings success.  Up against NBC’s Sunday Night Football and an NFL-overrun boosted CBS, ABC outdrew Fox’s Sunday night schedule by 2.0 million viewers.

ABC was up from the year-ago Sunday by 15% in Adults 18-49.

More than doubling its Adult 18-49 lead-in (+120%) and building audience from start to finish, ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME finished #1 against its non-sports competition from 8-9 p.m., beating an NFL-overrun-fueled CBS by 10% (60 MINUTES/AMAZING RACE) and Fox’s animated comedies by 22% (THE SIMPSONS/BOB'S BURGERS). ONCE UPON A TIME won its hour across all key Women demos (W18-34/W18-49/W25-54) and stood as Sunday’s #1 TV show with Women 18-34 for the 2nd week in a row. The Disney-owned drama retained over 90% of its big week-ago premiere with Women 18-34 (92%) and Kids 2-11 (94%).

ONCE UPON A TIME boosted its time period over the year-ago night by 30% in Total Viewers and by 65% in Adults 18-49.

Based on early DVR playback for the new season (Live + 3 Day), Once Upon A Time saw its numbers spike by 2.4 million viewers and by 1.1 Adult 18-49 rating points over its initially-reported Live + Same Day ratings.

The Season 2 premiere was down only 5% from the Season 1 premiere, an outstanding performance.  It was seen by 3.9% of all 18-49 viewers, and 10% of those watching.

The second episode of Season 2 did not do as well, dropping significantly in the ratings, but still led all scripted shows on the Sunday night on which it aired.

The third episode, "Lady of the Lake," was down 11% from the previous episode, but the fourth, "The Crocodile," introduced Captain Hook and was up 10% from the previous week.

Ratings picked up again for "The Doctor" despite strong sports competition from Football and the World Series.

Ratings for "Tallahassee" were the highest since the second-season premiere.

Ratings for "Child of the Moon," 2x07, dropped to a season two low.  It was up against tough football competition.  They were the lowest ratings since the show began, a 23% drop from the previous week.  All other shows that night, though, posted similar drops.  That it was a three-day weekend for many due to Veterans' Day may have influenced the numbers negatively as well.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, ratings bounced back after the previous week's preemption, up 11% from the year-ago Sunday airing.  The adults 18-34 rating was +13%, and women 18-34 +20+ and women 18-49 +11%, from two weeks previously.  Obviously, this show is a strong draw for women while men are watching football.  It also does very well in time-shifted playback.

For the Fall Finale on December 2, ratings held steady, with a slight uptick in total viewers. For the return on January 6, 2013, the ratings were the same as on December 2 2012. As ABC itself put it, "ABC's "Once Upon a Time" Returns as the Most-Watched TV Show in its Slot, Retaining 100% of its Last Airing 5 Weeks Ago in Viewers and Young Adults."

Ratings fell sharply, down .3 from the previous week, on January 13, but the Sunday schedule that day was mixed up because of an NFL playoff game that ran over and the annual Golden Globes ceremony on NBC. The Golden Globes and "60 Minutes" on CBS both clobbered "Once Upon a Time" in the ratings. "Once" had another big drop on January 20, 2013, earning a season (and series) low of 2.4, down 14% from the previous week's 2.8 adults 18-49 rating. All the intense football competition and hiatuses are killing "Once" in the ratings, maintaining consistent airings would be better for the ratings than tossing in weeks or re-runs in the middle of the schedule.


On February 10, 2013, in its first original telecast in 3 weeks against the "Grammy Awards," ABC's "Once Upon a Time" built on its lead-in at 8:00 p.m. (+22%) to earn second place Adults 18-49, with a 16% lead over its nearest regular competition (2.2/5 vs. 1.9/5 for Fox's "The Simpsons"/"Bob's Burgers"). Despite facing the "Grammy Awards," "Once Upon a Time" retained more than 90% of its last first-run telecast in Total Viewers (91%), Adults 18-49 (92%) and Kids 2-11 (100%). On February 17, the ratings rebounded slightly, up about 5% from the previous week's series low as the show faced another week off after that for the Academy Awards.

On March 3, 2013, "Once Upon A Time" scored a series low 2.1 among adults 18-49 down 13 percent from a 2.4 on February 17. This was perhaps in part due to its innumerable pre emptions over the preceding two months, but its ratings tailed off in Spring 2012 as well, so it may also be partly seasonal. The numbers bounced back slightly in the following two weeks as major plot points were resolved, but the series faces another lengthy hiatus soon, and it has not responded well to those periods of re-runs. Ratings returned to the region of the series low on March 24 2013, with the show facing another couple of weeks of re-runs.

Networks usually make their renewal decisions in the April/May time period (unless a show is really failing and gets the axe sooner, such as happened with "666 Park Avenue." Executives look at season averages, not individual weeks, so there is no point getting excited about a particular episode's performance. Through the end of March 2013, the season average ratings for "Once Upon a Time" were as follows:

Once Upon a Time 2.9 (2.85) 8.71

The figures are: 2.9 for the 18-49 demo (2.85 actual), and 8.71 million viewers on average each week. To put these numbers in perspective, there are only two scripted ABC series ("Grey's Anatomy" and "Modern Family") with higher average numbers - and 17 with worse numbers. "Once Upon a Time" is one of ABC's top scripted series (with better ratings in the key demographic than any ABC non-scripted series, too).  "Once Upon a Time" is in absolutely no danger of being cancelled. As Jane Espenson has tweeted, "They don't do spinoffs of failing series."

After the hiatus in early April 2013, the ratings for "Once" remained weak but sustainable. It came in second in its timeslot on April 21, and third on April 28. With a 2 rating, it isn't exactly shocking and awing, but it is doing workmanlike duty on a low-viewing night. Pretty much a lock to be renewed, but next year they really need to schedule it better. That seems to be in the cards with its projected spin-off series filling in during the off weeks. Perhaps a move opposite Monday Night Football would do it some good? Just an idea.

For the final two episodes of Season Two, ratings bounced back. The May 5, 2013 episode "Straight On 'Til Morning" scored a 2.2 with 7.39 million viewers. It still came in slightly behind the spring finale of "The Amazing Race," but it was a nice jump up from the previous week.

For the eagerly anticipated season finale on May 12, 2013, ratings ratings in the key demographic moved up slightly, though, somewhat surprisingly, total viewership was down from the previous week On the positive side, the episode had the third-highest rating among the key demographic for the night, at 2.3; on the downside, the show came in second in its time slot (a spot into which it seems to have settled recently) and the finale was down a full point from May 2012. Losing viewers is never good, especially well over 2.3 million from the previous year's finale, but the numbers as they stand certainly justified the decision to renew the series. If the numbers stabilize, "Once Upon a Time" should have a long run, because Sunday nights have been tough for the Networks recently; if they continue dropping at the same rate, the future of the show past next year is in serious doubt. Time will tell, but fans can be happy with the 22-show renewal order.

When all was said and done and May sweeps were over, "Once" wound up doing quite well. Here is the list of the top dramas for the 2012/2013 season:


TOP DRAMA | 18-49 DEMO
1 | Grey’s Anatomy, ABC (4.1)
2 | NCIS, CBS (4.0)
3 | Once Upon a Time, ABC (3.6)
In Total Viewers | NCIS, CBS (21.3 million)


Being the third-highest rated show was quite an honor for "Once." The reason "Once" ranks so highly despite its mediocre ratings in the spring was the inclusion of DVR viewers, who are not included in published ratings but are added in later. "Once" receives a heavy boost from that segment. It also skews young, to the 18-49 Demo, which means it is more highly prized to advertisers than shows which attract more total viewers. All in all, it was a very successful season and "Once" likely will be around for several more years.

Season One:

Overall, ratings for Once Upon a Time have been strong. It is "off to a good start," as they say in the trade. For example, on February 20, 2012, the show came in first for its night in the all-important 18-49 demographic, garnering a 3.18/8 vs. its nearest competitors at 2.8/7 (Amazing Race, Family Guy). In overall number of viewers, it came in fourth that night, at 9.84 million viewers, behind 60 Minutes (11.78 million), Amazing Race (10.34), and CSI: Miami (10.04). Clearly, Once Upon a Time skews toward younger viewers, as one might expect in a show with a fairy tales theme.

"Once" is especially valuable to ABC because it has improved the network's performance on Sunday nights. On February 20, for example, the audience for ABC in that time slot was 25% higher than last year. In addition, the audience for "Once" has been growing week to week, with 1.1 million more viewers turning in for that show.

On March 4, 2012, "Once Upon a Time" won the 8 p.m. hour with 10.62 million viewers and a 3.4 rating among adults 18-49. CBS' "The Amazing Race" was second with 10.37 million viewers and a 2.8 key demo rating. FOX was third with "The Simpsons" (5.17 million viewers and a 2.5 key demo) and the season finale of "Napoleon Dynamite" (4.04 million and a 2.0 key demo rating). NBC trailed with 3.77 million viewers and a 1.1 key demo rating for a "Celebrity Apprentice" repeat. Among adults 18-49, ABC won Sunday night with a 2.6 rating, beating CBS' 2.1 rating and the 2.0 rating for FOX in the key demographic. NBC was fourth with a 1.7 key demo rating.  "Once" grew its numbers for the second telecast in a row up over its last airing two weeks before (preempted the previous week by the Academy Awards) by 9% in Total Viewers and by 10% in Adults 18-49 to mark its best performance since the end of January – since 1/29/12.

On March 11, 2012, the show's ratings dipped for the fifteenth episode.  Some theorize it was because of the introduction of Daylight Savings Time.   According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, ''Once Upon a Time'' hit a low at 8 o'clock (2.8/8 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall), falling into a share of the time slot lead among adults 18-49 with CBS' steady ''Amazing Race'' (2.8/8 in 18-49, 9.7 million viewers overall). The fairy tale-themed drama was down 18% week to week, and certainly wasn't helped by lead-in ''America's Funniest Home Videos'' (1.3/4 in 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall), which tumbled 40% as it aired when the sun was still out for the first time this year.

On March 18, ABC's Once Upon A Time was steady vs. last week with another 2.9 adults 18-49 rating. Desperate Housewives fell a tenth vs. last week to a 2.5 adults 18-49 rating and GCB fell three tenths to a series low 2.0 adults 18-49 rating. GCB  remains at risk of cancellation, but Once is safe.

For the April 1 episode,  Vaulting over its AFV repeat lead-in at 8pm (+125%), ABC’s Once Upon A Time shot up to #1 in its hour in Adults 18-49, leading the slot for its 6th consecutive telecast. In fact, the Disney-owned drama finished as Sunday #1 TV series for the 2nd week in a row.

It appears that ABC has a bona fide hit on its hands that may be around for quite a while.


2014
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