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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