Drill Bits: ‘Dallas’s’ Ratings Dip Again, But Don’t Panic

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, Sins of the Father, TNT

Where’d everybody go?

“Dallas’s” audience shrunk again this week, but TV ratings expert Marc Berman said it’s too soon for the show’s fans to sound the alarms.

“I wouldn’t panic yet,” Berman, editor in chief of TV Media Insights, a top industry news site, said yesterday. “The numbers are disappointing, but they’re not horrific.”

TNT’s “Dallas” revival averaged 4.2 million viewers on Wednesday nights last summer, but when DVR users who recorded the show and watched it later were counted, the audience rose to 6.1 million viewers.

Last week, “Dallas” opened its second season on a new night – Mondays – with 2.9 million viewers. This week’s episode, “Sins of the Father,” dipped to 2.2 million viewers, “Dallas’s” smallest haul yet. The Feb. 4 audience included 773,000 viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, a demographic advertisers pay a premium to reach.

Berman said “Dallas” faces much tougher competition in the winter than it did last summer, when the broadcast networks are mostly in rerun mode. This week, “Dallas” aired opposite fresh episodes of CBS’s popular sitcoms “2 Broke Girls” and “Mike & Molly,” which were the evening’s most-watched programs, and Fox’ “The Following,” the highly touted serial killer drama starring Kevin Bacon.

Also: Don’t overlook the importance of the bump “Dallas” gets when DVR users are counted. Television executives take DVR numbers into consideration when deciding a show’s fate, Berman said.

Nevertheless, TNT might be questioning its strategy to bring back “Dallas” in the middle of winter and on a new night, Berman said. The cable channel has paired “Dallas” with a new medical drama, “Monday Mornings,” which bowed to just 1.3 million viewers on Feb. 4. “That doesn’t reflect poorly on ‘Dallas,’ that reflects poorly on ‘Monday Mornings,’” Berman said.

If “Dallas’s” numbers continue to fall, Berman predicted the cable channel might shift the series to another night. “It’s not an impossibility,” he said. TNT had no comment, a spokeswoman said.

Berman himself is a longtime “Dallas” fan and said he enjoys the new series, praising it for incorporating original cast members like Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray with newcomers like Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe. “When I heard it was coming back, I was apprehensive, but I’ve really enjoyed it,” Berman said.

Catch Up on Your ‘Dallas’ Reading

Dallas Decoder is best known for its episode critiques, but we’ve been cranking out fun features during the past two weeks.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out our retrospective of the shows that aired after the original “Dallas” (it wasn’t just “Falcon Crest”!); our look back at the classic show’s Barnes/Ewing romances (it wasn’t just Bobby and Pam!) and J.R./Pam clashes; and everything you need to know about Pamela’s mother Afton Cooper, who is slated to visit the new “Dallas” in a few weeks.

“Drill Bits,” a roundup of news about TNT’s “Dallas,” is published regularly. Share your comments below.


  1. I’m so rooting for this show to have a chance to turn around, and pick back up. Or, @ the very least, I’d hope that if TNT does decide @ some point to pull the plug, the producers are given enough advance notice to have time to clear up all the storylines and bring the series to a proper ending. We don’t need another ambiguous cliffhanger like the original series.

  2. Dallas is a great show and I would fire anyone who suggested pulling it off the air. Moving the show around to different nights is a dumb idea too. Do not even threaten to pull the show. Just produce a high quality show. Dallas has great everything – acting, writing, directing, lighting, wardrobe, location, music, and all of the other qualities that make a great TV show I would be the first person to say that the show is lousy, if it was.

    • Are you listening, TNT? I’m hopeful the show will be renewed. It sounds as if there’s no reason to panic yet. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope more people will start tuning in.

  3. I’m curious to see a breakdown of the 1/2 hour ratings during the eps. TNT programmed the night so the transition from “Dallas” to “Monday Mornings” had no break for titles or commercial breaks, and teased “Dallas” viewers, holding the preview to Ep. 4 until the first commercial break in “Monday Mornings.”

    Because of all that, I’m not so sure the poor premiere numbers for MM are not at least partially due to a weak “Dallas” lead-in. And there could be implications for the next episode of “Dallas” too. Episode 3 ended with a huge surprise twist/cliffhanger. If there was a significant drop-off in ratings in the second half hour, then arguably those fans missed that major plot point.

    I want “Dallas” to succeed, but I do hope that TNT recognizes this steady ratings decline throughout Season 1 and now 2 has to be dealt with somehow. It’s hard to turn a serial’s decline around once a trend is established. I hope they consider a move to another night, or breaking the season into two parts, so they can “reset.”

  4. One of the biggest problems is that Dallas is a cable only show… and I ditched cable 7 years ago. I went to the TNT site but can’t watch it because I only have internet with ATT, not cable. So I have to (unfortunately) watch it bootlegged on youtube. While the season openers were available on TNT I showed my mother via her internet the first little bit of one of the shows. She was an original series fan, and was intrigued with the new show. Her first question was “Why don’t they show this on regular TV?”, because she has never opted to buy cable. At 84 years old, I suspect she never will. If the ratings don’t hold up, TNT should send the show over to TBS where it is available to everyone… not just cable subscribers. I love the new series and I have watched every episode. Now, my daughter wants to see all of the originals, so we will probably buy the DVD’s. This is, IMO, the single most damaging factor to the success of the new Dallas series. Haven’t you read the reports of how many people are beginning to ditch cable? It must be more accessible!

    • Great points, Donna. I agree that cable television isn’t what it used to be. Lots of subscribers are cutting the cord, but the whole industry is in a state of flux right now.

      I doubt TNT would ship the show to TBS, though. TBS has been branded as a comedy channel, so I’m not sure “Dallas” would fit in there. Although Larry Hagman’s quips are probably funnier than anything you’d find on TBS.

      Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it!


  5. Anne Hardin says:

    HELLO PEOPLE!! DID YOU NOT HEAR THE NEWS OF LARRY HAGMAN’S DEATH?? How can you expect a show’s ratings not to reflect the death of the MAIN CHARACTER??

    • Anne, I think some folks expected the show’s ratings to go up after Larry Hagman’s death as people tuned in to see his final performances. Perhaps we’ll see a numbers spike when J.R.’s funeral episode is telecast in March.

  6. barbara fan says:

    I think once Larry Hagman is no longer in the show the ratings will be even lower and the writing is on the wall, its doing dreadfully in UK – under 700 000 viewers, Im a die hard Dallas original fan – obsessed with it since 1978, and this just leaves me cold! Never thought id say it but the casting, the scripts, the plot driven stories are poor. Its hard work watching it without fwd it!
    Ann, Rebecca, Christopher et al just dont do it for me and CC needs to do something drastic and fast! the only people I know left watching at home are watching it to see Larry Hagman, after that! …….. they are tuning out! I dont think they will be the only ones

    • Hi BF! It’s good to hear from you!

      I’m sorry to hear you’re not enjoying the new series. My heart will always belong to the classic show, but I like the new “Dallas” too. I agree it won’t be the same when Larry Hagman’s episodes run out, but I’m hopeful the show will go on. I enjoy watching and writing about it.

      Thanks for sharing your feedback. I appreciate your opinion and always enjoy hearing from you.


  7. barbara fan says:

    thanks – i wish i could like it, I feel i should, but i dont! On the other hand I cant wait for you to start reviewing 1982-83 season lol ( i call it 5, WB call it 6)
    thats my Dallas
    Love your web site – but you know that!!

  8. awesomezauce says:

    Just for the record Dallas Live+3 ratings pushed 1/28 to about 4 million and 2/4 to about 3 million. Can’t wait for Live+7 ratings! If they can stay in the 3-5 million range I think TNT will be happy….it’s good to note it’s Winter and not Summer.

  9. William Michael says:

    I watched the original Dallas and I enjoy the reboot just as much. I can’t believe that Victoria Principal as Pam would tell Christopher she never wants to see him again.
    The show has the potential to go on for 13 seasons just like it’s predecessor. Remember when Jim Davis who played Jock Ewing died in the second season of Dallas the first go round and Larry Hagman died in the second season too in the reboot
    and the show went on with Jim Davis the first time for 11 more years. So can the reboot do the same without Larry.. Don’t give up on the reboot.

  10. I imagine the reason TNT only lets cable subscribers view online is because nobody would subscribe to cable, and they’d make no money. Jim Davis’ last episode was in Season 4. Season 5 started w/Miss Ellie and Jock on a second Honeymoon, Miss Ellie came home alone, and then it was said that Jock stayed over w/Punk Anderson to fight in some war, and his helicopter went down.

    JR wasn’t even a big part of the re-boot, and I will miss him tremendously, but I think Josh Henderson has what it takes to carry the show.


  1. […] “Dallas’s” ratings, which have softened in Season 2: “TNT is a formidable summer [network]. They normally air their […]

  2. […] last week’s edition of “Drill Bits,” TV ratings expert Marc Berman said a decline was expected since “Dallas” […]

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