Thursday, September 4, 2014

Season Eleven: Finale

Another season has come and gone. And since this year's winner was seemingly a foregone conclusion since the callback episode, I'm going to use this post to talk more about why So You Think You Can Dance needs to ride off into the sunset. Spoilers after the jump.

So Ricky won... surprise, surprise. He was the strongest dancer all season, rarely taking any missteps, so it's the right decision. He's the most talented winner in many seasons.

With that in mind, it's time for the show to say goodnight. End it on a high note with Ricky's indisputable win, and cut your losses. The show's budget cuts were very obvious this season, particularly in Vegas week... which, for the first time, was not in Vegas (which made Jesse Tyler Ferguson's joke about buying his own ticket to Vegas for callbacks in last night's finale all the more awkward) but in Los Angeles. On top of that, there were fewer episodes this season and fewer (and lesser known) celebrity guest judges. Compound all of this with the fact that the show's best choreographers have either moved on completely (Mia Michaels, Wade Robson, Shane Sparks) or are working in a reduced capacity (Nappytabs), and this show just isn't what it used to be. So You Think... is a shadow of its former self. This is reflected not only in the quality but in the reception as well. Let's talk ratings.

I'm a TV ratings junkie. Networks are chasing viewers in the desirable demographics, in the show's case young women ages 18-34 and all adults ages 18-49. Ratings for the former demographic aren't readily available, but the latter numbers are. I'll also talk about total viewers, which is what networks refer to in advertisements that say things like "most watched show." Total viewers aren't really a proper gauge of who is watching your show, so it's less desirable information for advertisers, but it can sometimes be telling of a show's overall popularity. Moving on: one of the first rules you learn is that ratings are really only comparable, because of changes in viewing patterns and habits, for one or two previous years. So let's compare this season, the show's eleventh, to its two previous ones in 2013 and 2012:

Season Ten (2013)

Season High, Adults 18-49: 2.3
Season Low, Adults 18-49: 1.2
Average Viewership, Adults 18-49: 1.58
Average Viewers Per Episode (in millions): 4.46

Season Nine (2012)

Season High, Adults 18-49: 2.7
Season Low, Adults 18-49: 1.5
Average Viewership, Adults 18-49: 1.96
Average Viewers Per Episode (in millions): 5.47

Anything at or above 2.0 is very respectable, especially considering So You Think... is a summer series, and overall television usage is lower in the summer. In season nine, half of the show's episodes (seven of them) were at or above this number. In season ten, just two episodes were at or above a 2.0. Now let's look at this most recent season.

Season Eleven (2014)

Season High, Adults 18-49: 1.7
Season Low, Adults 18-49: 0.9
Average Viewership, Adults 18-49: 1.25
Average Viewers Per Episode (in millions): 4.11

Not once this season did the show hit 2.0. The average viewership continues to drop at a rate of 20% per year. Now, that number wasn't so alarming between seasons nine and ten because the average rating was still relatively high. But between seasons ten and eleven, a 20% decrease in viewers brought the show down quite a bit to numbers that are no longer so respectable. This season has been pretty embarrassing for the show, ratings-wise. It dipped below 1.0 in the ratings, and it is routinely beaten in the ratings by not only broadcast network shows but cable shows as well. Last week's performance finale was beaten by new episodes of America's Got Talent and Big Brother and by two repeats of Modern Family. In terms of total viewers, it had fewer viewers that night than new episodes of Motive, Taxi Brooklyn, Extant, Big Brother, and America's Got Talent; and fewer viewers than repeats of America's Got Talent, The Middle, The Goldbergs, and Modern Family.

Basically, what all of this is saying is that So You Think You Can Dance is tired. It's been on the air consistently since the summer of 2005, including one year with back-to-back seasons in the summer and fall. Viewers are clearly tired of it... just look at the numbers. Look at the tour, which used to sell out arenas and is now performing in 1,500 seat theatres. It's time to let go and have the show end on a high note with one of its better and more deserving winners. It would be a shame to see the quality and interest wane even further.

One last thing... I'm calling bullshit on this prize of being offered a role in On the Town. The offer won't take effect until spring of 2015, due to Ricky's commitment to the So You Think... tour, but who's to say the show will even be open by then? On the Town is playing in a massive house and has very few presales (from what I could tell based on looking at ticketing maps for a random number of dates throughout the run), so I wouldn't be surprised if it shutters before Ricky even gets the chance to join the cast. The tour runs through February of 2015, so On the Town will have to stay open for at least six months, many of them the slowest of the year for Broadway, for Ricky to be able to join the cast. I just don't see it happening.

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