Once Upon a Time Is a Rare Hit With the Whole Family

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what's the most surprising fall success story of them all? A strong case could be made that it's ABC's Once Upon a Time. It overcame mixed reviews and strong time-slot competition from the NFL, The Simpsons, and post-season baseball to score the biggest debut ratings of any new drama over the past two seasons in the prized under-50 demo, and its ratings have largely held up in its three subsequent airings. While we're sure there are plenty of sci-fi geeks and Disney/Grimm Brothers nerds among the show's audience of 12 million-plus, another factor may be driving the show's success. According to Nielsen data obtained by Vulture, there's evidence Once has become a rare must-see for families, bringing adults and kids together in front of the flat-screen in a way that hasn't been done by a scripted show in years. Could ABC finally have found its new Wide World of Disney?

While it's not commonly reported on in the media, one of the dozens of metrics Nielsen gathers each week is something called "co-viewing" — specifically, what percentage of a show's grown-up audience tunes into a program with a kid or teenager also in the room. For example, it's probably no shock that most adults who savor their weekly installment of Harry's Law do so without the company of a legal minor (although, really, what toddler doesn't go gaga whenever Kathy Bates gets all grumpy?). Barely 6 percent of adults 18 to 49 watch Harry's with someone under 18. By contrast, Once has quickly become a blockbuster in co-viewing: An impressive 18 percent of its adult audience has sampled the show with a kid or teen. That not only makes it the No. 1 drama on network TV this fall in family co-viewing; per ABC, Once is actually the most family-friendly drama on any broadcast network in the past ten years. Even including more potentially kid-friendly formats such as reality and comedies, Once does well, ranking as the No. 5 show overall in co-viewing this season, ahead of family staples such as The Simpsons and Glee. No. 1 would be America's Funniest Home Videos, which leads in to Once, with 27 percent of its audience watching with youngsters; it's followed by The Middle (21 percent), Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (20 percent), and The X Factor (18.5 percent average for its two weekly editions). Read More...



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