NEW YORK – Four weeks into the new television season, and the performance of two important nights for comedy have proven no laughing matter for CBS and NBC.
CBS’ long-dominant Monday night schedule has shown surprising weakness, and the network has already made some moves to shore up the night. NBC made it a big priority to establish a new comedy schedule on Thursday nights with shows starring Michael J. Fox and Sean Hayes, but they haven’t caught on.
CBS hoped the comedy “2 Broke Girls” could move up in class to the 9 p.m. time slot, considered the linchpin of the night’s schedule. But it wasn’t up to the task, and has been moved to a half hour earlier, where the disappointing freshman series “We Are Men” has already been canceled.
“I just don’t think that (‘2 Broke Girls’) was really a franchise comedy,” said Brad Adgate, an analyst for Horizon Media. “It’s an OK comedy, but I don’t think it’s a show that creates appointment viewing.”
“Mike & Molly” is being rushed back onto the schedule next month to fill the 9 p.m. vacancy. CBS is also hurting at 10 p.m., where the serial drama “Hostages” has been a sharp drop off from “Hawaii 5-0,” which had moved to Friday.
“How I Met Your Mother” has so far been CBS’ most successful Monday show. Unfortunately for the network, it is in its last season.
On Thursdays, NBC sought to replace shows like “The Office” that had small but dedicated fan bases with shows that would have broader appeal. Yet “Welcome to the Family” has already been axed. Hayes’ “Sean Saves the World” is in danger, too, reaching just 3.4 million people last week. NBC ordered a full season of episodes of “The Michael J. Fox Show,” but the 3.6 million viewers it reached last week were fewer than Univision’s competing telenovela, “Tempestad.”
NBC has been hurt most directly by CBS on Thursdays, where the network has built a successful night behind television’s most popular comedy, “The Big Bang Theory.” The new series “The Millers” and “The Crazy Ones” have both done well, and are the broad-based comedies that NBC had sought to establish on the same night.
The one advantage that NBC had on Thursdays – comedies that at least had some hip, young cache – has been erased. The media age of viewers for “The Michael J. Fox Show” is just under 53; last year it was 38 for “The Office.”
CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 10.2 million viewers. NBC averaged 9.4 million and won the week among the 18- to 49-year-old demographic that advertisers seek. ABC had 7 million, Fox had 6.2 million, Univision had 3.3 million; the CW had 1.9 million, Telemundo had 1.5 million and ION Television had 1.1 million.
TBS was the week’s most popular cable network, averaging 3.4 million viewers in prime time. ESPN had 2.6 million, the Disney Channel had 2.2 million, USA had 1.9 million and the Fox News Channel had 1.7.
NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.4 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” was second with 7.8 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million viewers.
For the week of Oct. 14-20, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Denver vs. Indianapolis, NBC, 26.94 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 18.83 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 17.8 million; “Football Night in America,” NBC, 15.29 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 14.95 million; “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 14.64 million; “The Walking Dead,” AMC, 13.95 million; “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 13.78 million; “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 12.99 million; “The Voice” (Tuesday), NBC, 12.99 million.