The Ratings for Bill Simmons' canceled HBO show were almost completely dependent on what movie aired before

Ben Affleck and Bill Simmons on the set of HBOBen Affleck and Bill Simmons on the set of ‘Any Given Wednesday’

HBO has announced that Bill Simmons’ fledgling show, “Any Given Wednesday,” has been canceled. 

It is clear why the show was canceled when you look at the ratings it was generating as they could be described as something less than they were hoping.

Through 16 episodes, “Any Given Wednesday” was averaging 200,000 viewers according to Nielsen (via Sports TV Ratings). Not surprisingly, the audience size appeared to be dependent on the movie that aired before, with those movies averaging 342,813 viewers. 

For example, Simmons’ show had its largest audience in their second episode. That was also the night with the second-largest lead-in audience with “Ted 2.” Likewise, AGW’s lowest ratings among its first nine airings came in Episode 5, the night with the lowest rated lead-in movie, “Dumb and Dumber To.”

The troublesome part is that the gap between the two had been growing in recent episodes while gaining only a nominal bump from “Deadpool” prior to Episode 13 (continued below).

It is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, but to give AGW’s ratings some perspective, ESPN’s daily afternoon talk shows (“Pardon the Interruption,” “Around the Horn,” and “Highly Questionable”) typically have audience sizes of 500,000-800,000. In the morning, “First Take” is in the neighbourhood of 300,000-400,000 on ESPN2.

Now, those shows are on every weekday and ESPN is in a lot more homes. So they should have bigger audiences, but these are just to give you a sense of size.

And then there is Bill Maher’s HBO show, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” which is also a weekly show on HBO. That show has an average audience of 4.4 million. Of course, it has been around a lot longer (15 seasons) and is more established and less dependent on lead-in movies.

As for AGW, it appeared to have a baseline audience of about 160,000 early on. That is, it would draw an audience of at least 160,000 no matter what the lead-in movie is. Anything above that appeared to be drawing from the lead-in crowd. However, it fell below that level six times in the last seven episodes.

This is not to say Simmons’ time with HBO is a failure at all. AGW was just one aspect of a much bigger media venture he is undertaking with HBO. But while the show was also still working to find the best format and was being tweaked on a week-to-week basis, HBO no longer saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

Here are the lead-in movies for each of the episodes:


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