Good Dancing Did Not Bring The Audience To ABC on Monday
Summing up the opening night of Dancing With The Stars for Season 14 - high marks by the judges for the dancing, a feeling of high accomplishments by this group of "novices" in dancing after only their first performance, but does it mean anything if not enough people are watching on Monday night?
The numbers showed high scores that we are not used to seeing from the "stars" this soon with their dancing skills, but the numbers that mean the most to ABC is the Nielsen Ratings. Despite 18.5 Million viewers for DWTS, which was the highest watched show of the evening, the premier saw the lowest ratings for a season kickoff in the show's history.
Dancing had a 3.5 Nielsen rating in adults 18-49, which is down a eye-popping 34% from the start of last spring's premier. The score looks only slightly better compared to last fall's debut episode - down 13% in comparison.
Before this season started, I was suggesting a re-casting before the season even started. Claudine Zap of Yahoo! TV feels there is a "lack of tabloid drama" with this season's cast, and Entertainment Weekly talks about the "Hot Button" factor to casting ("Celebrities that a large number of Americans have strong feelings about, positive or negative" - Chaz Bono, The Situation, Nancy Grace and Bristol Palin are given as examples)
This brings me to my suggestion of Patricia Heaton a few weeks ago (click on highlighted above). Her recent Twitter controversy responding on the Sandra Fluke congressional testimony over birth control being covered by health insurance made her "tabloid drama" for the moment. Being already on the ABC roster with The Middle, plus this should have been an immediate phone call to an actress who is still also seen everyday in re-runs of Everybody Love Raymond.
Another factor for the lack of buzz for this season is the lack of known commodities on the dance floor. Although William Levy is not known to many, he made quite an impression with his "steaming hot" performance. Word of mouth is going to be critical to help make people go to YouTube and check out this Telemundo star.
The show has also gambled on little known in America, but mega-star overseas Classical singer Katherine Jenkins. She did well in week 1, but is her story intriguing enough to make people watch? Could a live performance by her create a YouTube moment? ABC needs to milk her talent to create something here!
The rest of the cast has some comfort food, and they are all nice people, but lacking any attention getting headlines. The biggest tabloid getting star this season is probably Jack Wagner, and that more about his ex-fiance and not necessarily about him.
I stand my be re-casting from a few weeks ago. ABC needs to up the ante on a show that now has fierce competition from NBC with The Voice. The C or D-List of talent cannot bring the 18-49 to the party right now. You still have the older crowd of 49+ in for the season, but in business it is about getting the "money demographic". I hope for the best for Dancing With The Stars but as someone in the 18-49 demo that they target, something is lacking with this season (and this is after only 1 show!)