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DWTS14: A Refresher on the Importance of Running Order

Since there still seems to be some confusion on what running order positions are “good” or “bad” (even though I feel like Heidi & I have repeated ourselves ad infinitum), I thought now might be a good time to give everyone a crash course in the “Courtney & Heidi Theory of Running Order” :-) I did more of an experimental post about running order back in 2010, but since then Heidi & I have honed our theory a bit more and it’s time for an update!

For those of you just wanting the Cliff’s Notes version, here’s the basic gist: the beginning, middle, and end of the show are the best positions, and it’s better to dance in the 2nd half of the show than the first.  And why is that, you ask? The answer: ratings. If you’re still interested, read on…

So what makes going 1st an advantage? In theory, you’ve got the attention of all the folks that tuned in at 8 PM, before they lose interest and change the channel.  The 8 PM-9PM time slot is quite possibly the most competitive weeknight time slot – most networks try to put their big-hitters with broad-spectrum appeal in this slot, as it’s the hour that families are most likely to be watching TV together, before the kids (and sometime grandma & grandpa) go to bed.  It therefore stands to reason that TPTB would want to put a popular, attention-grabbing couple at the top of the first hour to try and hold viewers’ interest and keep them from changing the channel – say, to How I Met Your Mother on CBS or The Voice on NBC.  How does it benefit the couple? Obviously they get some good exposure, but it also tends to benefit them in the voting.  While we diehard viewers may start voting for a couple at the beginning of the show that may not actually be dancing until the end of the show, the average viewer may not start voting until they see a couple that really impresses them – my mom tends to vote this way.  She’ll see a couple that she really likes, and even though the show might not be over yet, she’ll use all her votes on that particular couple (sometimes she’ll regret it later when she sees a couple she likes even more, but that’s neither here nor there ;-)).  Going first can help a couple snare some impulse votes, before a viewer sees anyone else and change their mind.  It also tends to keep them memorable, since they’re the first couple the viewers see.
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March 22, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS13 Week 1 Power Rankings

So ends the first night of competition in season 13 :-) I must say, tonight was…interesting, as far as premieres go. On the downside, the bad performances seemed to outweigh the good ones; on the upside, even some of the bad ones were still pretty entertaining! The judges are still under the influence, the new stage still looks like a tripping hazard, and Brooke…is still the same old ditzy Brooke, just with a fancy new hyphenated last name. But on with the rankings!

1.) JR & Karina – I know I had already pegged this guy as the one to win this season, but man – I still got a little slack-jawed (and misty-eyed) watching him tonight :-) He’s extraordinarily fluid in his movements – he was the only one I saw who really finished his lines tonight – and wasn’t in a hurry to do so.  Everything felt like a piece of cake to him, while the level of difficulty impressive.  And Carrie Ann was right – JR was one of the few tonight that managed to connect both with the dance AND their partner/the audience.  I find that highly impressive at this stage of the competition, when so many celebs can only either dance or connect, and not do both.  He did seem to get a bit thrown off by some of the fancier turns, but considering how fluid the rest of the dance was, it’s not a huge deal.  Personality-wise, I can honestly say I’m inspired by how positive and grateful JR is in his attitude towards life – in a society where we place so much emphasis on looks, it’s incredibly refreshing to see someone who can be secure (and even crack jokes!) about a very traumatic and disfiguring injury.  Not only do I feel inspired, but Karina seems inspired as well – it’s nice to see the smile she had with Ralph last season, back again even brighter this season :-D I think these two have a long, hard, gorgeous journey ahead of them on the show…which I can’t wait to see! Read more..

September 19, 2011 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

Good Morning America Goes “Behind The Scenes” Of DWTS Before Showtime & More Goodies!

Good Morning America went behind the scenes to see how the new cast is preparing for Dancing With The Stars tonight! You can see some “never seen before dancing action”. They get interviewed too. I don’t want to spoil it for you. Take a peak below to see what I mean.

And for fun, be sure to see ESPN today to read some fun advise from some of the former “athelete” contestants!! I love this one from Kristi Yamaguchi…

Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic champion figure skater
Season 6: Champion

Kristi Yamaguchi and her partner Mark Ballas Most challenging style of dance: The samba was a tough one for me — lots of technique that is just too hard to pick up in four days.

The one thing I wish I’d known before the show started: I wasn’t prepared for the emotional and mental stress. As the weeks go on, there is so much to learn and remember — lots of mental stamina required.

Most challenging aspect of the show: Learning how to dance. And then it was being ready for live TV every Monday.

Most exciting part: Learning how to dance. I had an amazing teacher and partner in Mark Ballas.

Burning a lot of calories on the show means: For me, it was everything in moderation as always. As an athlete, I’m sure Hope knows how to gauge what she needs for energy and stamina. I did treat show days like game or competition days as far as diet is concerned.

Biggest piece of advice: The No. 1 thing is to have fun. Be open and go with the flow. If you take it too seriously and get too stressed out, you won’t enjoy all it has to offer. Pace yourself, too!

How to become the champion: Stay healthy! Eat well, sleep as much as possible. … Also, take the judges’ comments seriously. They are usually trying to be constructive and appreciate it when they see you trying to apply it. And again, have fun. If you’re having fun, the audience will have fun right along with you.

It’s a Dancing With The Stars holiday! :)

Adding: And here’s this too from yesterday;

Below is more on tonight and tomorrow nights shows from ABC MediaNet:

“Episode 1301 A + Meet the Cast”– A live one-hour special, “Dancing with the Stars: Meet the Cast,” airing TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network, features the most exciting moments from Monday night’s performances, along with commentary from the judges and never-before-seen footage from the teams’ first weeks of training. Following the one-hour special will be the Season Premiere of “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show” (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET), with musical performances by Harry Connick, Jr. and LMFAO. By evening’s end, the first couple of the season will be sent home.

This week, Grammy ® and Emmy® Award winner Harry Connick, Jr. is set to perform “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” from his upcoming Broadway musical by the same title. Electro hip-hop duo LMFAO also hits the stage, performing a medley of “Sexy and I Know it” and “Party Rock Anthem.” Both musical acts will be accompanied by “Dancing with the Stars” pros on the dance floor. Tuesday night’s musical acts will be the first to perform on the spectacular newly redesigned set that incorporates touches of the original ballroom, but now with three tiers of amphitheatre style balconies and state of the art staircase that moves with the band on a rising platform.

I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud.

DWTS Stat Class: What’s Running Order Got to Do with It?

With 10 seasons of DWTS behind us now, we’re at an interesting place – we’ve got enough data and scores at our disposal to do some interesting statistical analyses of the show.  Ever wonder if there’s any interesting patterns in scoring, running order, dance selection, or even pro pairings? Well, wonder no more – because we’re about to run those numbers, and bring some surprising patterns to light…I like to call it “DWTS Stat Class”. :-D 

Here’s an interesting fact: out of the 83 regular, weekly eliminations (not counting elims that determined placements in the finals or withdrawals from the competition – the math just gets too tricky with those) in the 10 seasons of DWTS, only 39 of them were couples that were that week’s lowest scorer – roughly 47%.  So what does that mean? Well, that the other 53% of the time, some factor other than a low score resulted in a couple getting sent home.  While the obvious answer to some might be “Well those couples just weren’t as popular!”, there’s no scientific, finite way to measure popularity on the show, and we unfortunately aren’t privy to the vote counts for each couple.  However, there are other factors we can take an objective measurement of – running order, dance choice, even the pro you’re paired with…and that’s where some interesting stats pop up. 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional statistician, nor am I a Vegas sports bookie – I am well aware that these calculations are not perfect, nor are they particularly sophisticated.  There are simply too many variables to account for in order make these stats “airtight”, and quite frankly, I don’t have the time or the desire to try.  These are just general observations, to be taken with a grain of salt – so if anyone starts complaining in the comments about this not being “scientific” enough, go run the numbers yourself…I’ll even publish your findings on this site.  But you don’t get to bitch & moan if you can’t do better yourself.  Mmmmmkay? ;-)

 Today’s topic? Running order.  The question: is it possible that the order in which the couples dance on performance night can affect their odds of elimination that week? The answer, based upon my findings: sure seems like it.

 Some of you have heard me talk about the “money spot” (dancing last) or the “crap spot” (dancing first) in my power rankings – my general observation is that those who dance last are less likely to get sent home, as their performances are fresh in the viewers’ minds when they’re voting after the show; those who dance first are more at risk of getting sent home, as an entire show’s length has elapsed since their performance and they’re often forgotten by the voters. 

 Well, after taking a closer look at the running order of eliminated couples, it seems as though the numbers are consistent with my first hypothesis – only 3 out of the 83 eliminations were couples that had danced last on performance night (or one of 2 performance nights, if there was no elimination previous week, so the couples would have danced twice before a particular elimination); it may also be worth noting that two of the couples, Joey McIntyre & Ashly Costa and Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower, were also the low scorers that week (and both were eliminated in the semifinals, when scores are of greater importance) – so their departure may have had more to do with a low score than the order in which they danced.  Based on that, it seems to me that, unless a couple does exceptionally poorly any given week, if they dance last – the chances of them getting eliminated that week are slim to none, unless it’s one of the final weeks of the competition. Guess if you’re a couple having an off-week, you should hope and pray that you get to go last!

 As for my “crap” spot hypothesis about going first – I was wrong.  Only 11 out of 83 eliminations were from couples that had danced first on performance night (or, again, on at least one of 2 performance nights, if there was no elimination the previous week and the couples danced twice before an elimination).  That’s only about 13.25%.  However, there was an overwhelming percentage of eliminations for couples who danced 2nd in the running order during the week they were eliminated – about 30%, by far the greatest of all the running order positions. And this was regardless of how many couples total danced that week!  Of those, only 9 were actually the lowest scorer during the week they were eliminated – so maybe the other 16 were part of the “curse of #2”.  I guess it makes sense to me – if you go first, you’re still at least the first one viewers have seen, so they’ll likely remember you because of it; but if you go second (or anywhere in the middle of the pack), you’re more likely to get lost in the shuffle. A good example of the new “crap spot” in action – Shannen Doherty.  Poor girl got a pretty lousy draw in the running order lottery – she danced 2nd in week one, and 1st in week two…overall, a pretty hard combo to overcome, which may have had something to do with her getting sent home despite not being the week’s lowest scorer. 

 So what about the “middle of the pack” positions, you ask? Well things get a bit tricky there, since there hasn’t been the same number of competitors each season, so I’m not going to go into the details of positions 3, 4, 5…etc.  However, two interesting points: one, no one who has danced in a position greater than 10th in the running order in a given week has gotten sent home; two, over 70% of the eliminations have been couples who danced in the first half of the show the night they performed.  What can we extrapolate from that? Well, it seems like the closer your performance is to the end of the show, the better – if you can’t go last, at least you can hope that you perform in the second half of the show, because it seems a helluva lot safer than dancing in the first half!

 Here’s another interesting tidbit, which I already sort of touched on above: the closer you get to the end of the season, the less running order seems to matter.  At about the halfway point in each season, the patterns I’ve mentioned above seem to show up less frequently – and couples tend to be sent home based more on low score than anything else.  Why? Probably because it’s easier to get lost in the middle of a big group of couples (such as the first half of the season) than it is to get forgotten in a much smaller group (second half of the season).  The fact that people have already established their favorites and know who the strong couples are by the middle of the season may also play a role – the second half of the season really seems to separate the men from the boys (and the women from the girls!), so to speak, and actually giving good performances with high scores tends to matter more.

 So what can we conclude about running order, class? ;-)

Well, we can’t really conclude anything – lord knows this show can be completely unpredictable at times, and no pattern we find is guaranteed to hold true.  HOWEVER, we can say it seems as though you’re safe if you dance last, pretty safe if you dance in the second half of the show, slightly at a disadvantage if you dance in the first half, and you’re almost totally screwed if you dance 2nd.  I guess 2nd place really is first place loser ;-) But if it’s later in the season – well, then you just better dance like there’s no tomorrow!

August 13, 2010 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!