Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by Classy Christmas, Jul 16, 2019.
How successful was the show in the ratings? Are the ratings that circulate the internet accurate?
My understanding is that while it was not consistently in the top ten(I believe it was there a few times) it always beat the shows that ran in the same time slot on different channels. Apparently it ran for so long because it had a very loyal fan base. Advertisers knew it would always deliver reliable numbers, as opposed to fluctuating, as Dynasty and later Dallas did.
From my gatherings, it seems Knots Landing only once finished in the Top Ten of the season-end ratings; that being at the end of the 1984-85 television year when it came in ninth place. The only time the show went #1 for the week, or so I've read, was when Valene got her twins back, and that was attributed to the fact that Dallas and Dynasty didn't air that week.
While the "rankings" (comparable popularity with contemporary shows) for Knots Landing weren't always topping the charts, the "ratings" (audience percentages) were fairly consistent. In viewing the table that Wikipedia employs, we see that the ratings only dipped off closer to the end, while the remainder of the seasons have close to a straight line of viewership when measured according to the ratings provided.
A loyal fan base? Certainly. They all had them, but this one was more on-point and didn't let down it's audience as often.
It never hit the heights of Dallas in Nielsen’s ratings but I also believe it never hit the lows of Dallas. I believe lowest rated KL season is either 13 or 14, and it’s ranking between 40 and 50 for both seasons, whereas the final season of Dallas dipped all the way to #63. Of course I’m also just talking from memory, I’d need to do a little more research to make sure I’m accurate. Also as other posters have said, it maintained its audience consistently which is why it stayed on so long. Even if your ratings aren’t super high, if you’re maintaining a consistent viewership the network will probably keep you on forever.
One other thing about Nielsen ratings that I find interesting. For years I just assumed that the season with the highest number (or lowest
Number, really, like if it’s ranking #1 or #2) meant that was highest rated season, but that’s not always so. Season 5 of Knots is #11 while season six is #9, but actually season 5 has a
Smidge more viewers. Another example is Friends which ranked #1 during 2001-2002 season, so one might glance at that and assume that’s the most watched season. In fact the most watched season was 2, 1995-1996, Where it ranked about 5 million more viewers than season 8. But because of how the tv landscape changes or how many other shows are on, a season will less viewership can rank higher in terms of the top ten or whatever.
Yes, and I certainly think that helped in later seasons when NBC was dominating the 9PM slot with Cheers. One just need to look at the amount of shows that CBS had to circle around in the slot before Knots in the 1989-90 season while Knots stayed stable in the 10PM slot:
I was also baffled when learning that's how the ratings and rankings of TV shows work. The ratings justify the percentage of the viewing landscape, while the ranking lends information as to how well the show is doing when grouped together in comparison to other network shows.
Knots Landing had ratings (audience percentages) that were almost straight across the board, with some dips frequenting around 1988 or so. By this time, however, the Golden Age for the mega nighttime soaps had passed, but Knots Landing was now generating larger viewing numbers than Dallas, Dynasty, or Falcon Crest, while almost all other serialized dramas had been cancelled.
I remember Michele Lee calling Knots Landing "the little engine that could", noting that while they got good ratings, there was relatively little buzz spread about their show, while Dynasty and Dallas generated all the press and big time ratings returns.
Highest rated season of the Big Four:
Dallas (1980-81; 27.6 rating)
Knots Landing (1983-84; 20.8 rating)
Dynasty (1984-85; 25.0 rating)
Falcon Crest (1983-84; 22.0 rating)
When employing this simple outline, we see that Knots Landing never reached the pinnacle the other three did. The "Who Shot J.R.?" story and the publicity surrounding it sent Dallas out into orbit where it became The Show of American television, garnering ratings that shot the roof off of the expectations of CBS. It was untouchable, and almost no other TV show came close to knocking it off its high horse for a few years. Dynasty peaked with Moldavia, the massacre, all the kings, queens, and glitz of royalty, and finally got ABC to the coveted number one slot in the ratings after several years of playing second and third fiddle. Knots Landing and Falcon Crest both had its largest viewing numbers the same season, although the latter, in its third season, still got bigger returns than the former, in its fifth season.
The mega ratings don't always mean a show will stay that popular, however. I've heard the producers of Dynasty and Dallas speak of how hard it was to keep their shows fresh and new when pressure from the press, critics, and audience seem to overwhelm them because of the status each show had obtained. It wasn't easy for them to do, and eventually, both shows tumbled, the former quicker than the latter. Falcon Crest had a behind-the-scenes changeover that sent it for a tail spin just following its peak year, and it never seemed able to recover. Knots Landing, that little engine that could, might have very well been the shining glory. It was never the hit the other three were, when ratings are tabled, but maybe that was the key to its longevity and consistent quality. There wasn't any significant pressure from the network I wouldn't say to make it "bigger and better", and the audience was satisfied without any major "tweaks" to "fix" anything because the show rarely messed up.
It consistently beat the media's darling Hill Street Blues year after year.
Hill Street Blues wasn't major ratings competitor it doesn't seem.
Apologies for the lengthy detail below but I do love a conversation about ratings and what drives the network decisions for keeping a show on the air. If you look at Knots performance over the years, as others have mentioned above, it was probably the most consistent out of all of the 80's soaps when it came to delivering steady ratings. It hit a point from the mid-80's onward where it bounced between the 20's to 30's each season compared to the others whose yearly rankings began sinking like rocks at that point. Even in the last season (1988-89) when the Big 4 were all still on the air, Knots out-ranked them all.
Knots Landing #29
Knots Landing #28
Falcon Crest #13
Knots Landing #43
Flamingo Road #68
Falcon Crest #8
Knots Landing #20
Falcon Crest #7
Knots Landing #11
Knots Landing #9
Falcon Crest #10
Knots Landing #17
Falcon Crest #24
The Colbys #35
Falcon Crest #23
Knots Landing #26
The Colbys #64
Knots Landing #31
Falcon Crest #42
Knots Landing #28
Falcon Crest #52
Knots Landing #34
Falcon Crest #81
Knots Landing #35
Knots Landing #47
Knots Landing #42
I also think it's important to remember that CBS also went through a massive ratings crisis at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s - the network itself was in large parts freefalling in the ratings as other networks started to move in on them, so Knots became a very welcome utility player that they could rely on which is probably why it lasted until '93.
Wow I'm really surprised to see falcon crest ranked higher than knots for some seasons. I always thought falcon crest was last
I just checked and Beverly Hills 90210 was also at #42 this year - was it a tie or something?
Yes it was a tie. If you look at the Top 30 from the same season, there were quite a few ties there too.
I don't wish to discount the fan base of the show, but I think FC's ratings were nearly totally dependent on their lead-in, Dallas. If CBS had moved FC away from Dallas sooner, I don't think they would have lasted as long as they did.
Now that makes more sense.
I'm wondering why they never put knots on the same night as Dallas..?
A lot of networks prefer for the spin-offs to stand on their own rather than feed off the "mother" show.
I can only theorize, but most likely they felt that (in the early years, at least) KL was not a true 'companion piece' to Dallas since KL chose to be an episodic drama rather than serialized. FC had that same "family struggling over a family business" theme and followed the soap format, so it attracted the same type of viewer. I would guess CBS wanted FC to have the very best chance to succeed since it had spent a lot of money to look as good as it did and to have big-name stars.
As KL became a soap, it was strong enough to stand on its own on a different night's schedule. And of course after the "divorce" (Dream season) KL wanted nothing to do with Dallas and I guess the network decided it was best to let them exist in the same universe but never crossing paths. The ultimate insult would have been if CBS had decided to pair the two--but moved the final episodes of Dallas to Thursdays (at 9pm) since KL was now the stronger of the two. They moved FC's final few episode to that slot, but it was more of a "burning off" than an attempt to raise the ratings--they had already written the show off and was just airing the final episodes to put the period on the end of the sentence. If they had done a similar thing to Dallas, it would have been CBS's way of giving the Dallas producers the finger...and that show had earned waaaay too much money for CBS to be treated that badly.
Well, in the later seasons when the show was doing well or stable there really wasn't a reason to move Knots and I think they wouldn't have dared to move Dallas as the Friday 9PM slot had become so iconic for the show. But who knows? If they had moved Dallas then maybe that would've helped stopped its decline - or hastened it because of the NBC powerhouse Thursdays. Either way they weren't brave enough to take that risk. IMHO I would've tried to move Dallas in the 1990-91 season because there really wasn't anything left to lose for the show and maybe moving it would've provided some stability to that time period, but maybe it would've been seen as a killer move like Dynasty going to the slot in 1988.
Honestly, the show was cancelled at that point and if anything they had so much trouble with the slot in that season that they basically moved Falcon Crest there for the final four episodes to be able to air anything other than repeats. It tells you how much problems they had with the 9PM slot while Knots' audience basically stayed put in the 10PM slot. Usually when a show is islanded like Knots ended up being it tends to end up suffering much more than Knots did.
Logical, and certainly a deciding factor in the CBS decision to keep Knots Landing around as long as they did.
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