News Articles

'Big Bang' Begins With a Big Bang

Early success bodes well, especially when paired with 'Two and a Half Men' 10/17/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

30 Rock: Lower Number, Less Pressure

NBCUniversal’s 30 Rock, which premiered in syndication Sept. 19, opened at a 1.4 live plus same day national household rating.

Comparatively, that is a much smaller rating than The Big Bang Theory, but it’s not a bad performance considering that 30 Rock airs almost uniquely in late fringe and late-night time slots. NBCU sold 30 Rock to broadcasters on an all-barter basis, so the sitcom’s ratings don’t need to be as high to cover costs.

30 Rock is considered more niche and upscale than either Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men. The show has also been much more widely available via digital platforms, potentially lessening viewers’ interest in seeing it in syndication.

And while 30 Rock is sold on Viacom’s Comedy Central and Tribune’s WGN America, its national rating is almost entirely derived from its broadcast runs. Less than 0.1 of its national rating comes from its cable runs, because Comedy Central bought it for cash and thus includes no barter advertising. 30 Rock’s ratings on WGN America, which is distributed to only 60% of the country, are very low. —PA

Aa expected—and hoped and prayed for by
those who paid big bucks for it—Warner Bros.’
The Big Bang Theory burst out of the gate this
season with a very healthy 4.5 live plus same day national
household ratings average, according to Nielsen,
followed by a 5.0 in week two. That immediately puts
the show in second place among all off-net sitcoms, following
only Warner Bros.’ megahit Two and a Half Men.

In fact, Bang’s 4.5 and 5.0 far surpass the 3.6 and
3.9 rating that Two and Half Men opened with in 2007.
Men was exclusive to broadcast for its first three years,
which some feel gave it an advantage. Bang airs concurrently
on TBS on Tuesdays from 8 to 11 p.m. ET and on
Thursdays from 9 to 11 p.m., as well as on Saturdays.
So far, those runs are only contributing nine-tenths of a
ratings point to Bang’s overall ratings average,
which means it still opened bigger than Men,
even with its cable airings factored out.

One emerging trend is that Bang tends to
perform better in markets where it is paired
with Men, which isn’t surprising considering
that both shows are created and executive produced
by Chuck Lorre and air on CBS.

For example, on Tribune’s Fox affiliate KCPQ
Seattle, Two and a Half Men airs at 7 p.m. and
Big Bang
airs at 7:30. In that market, Men and
Bang pack a one-two punch in access among
the key adult 25-54 demographic, winning the
time period with Men’s 2.2/6 and Bang’s 3.0/7.
Similarly, the two are performing well on Tribune’s
independent WPHL Philadelphia at a
2.0/6 and 1.4/4 at 7 and 7:30 p.m. in the demo,
although that’s only good enough for fourth place in the time period. And across the Fox-owned
stations, Bang is strongest on KMSP Minneapolis, the
only market where it is paired with Men.

In markets where the two shows compete against
each other, including Los Angeles and Chicago, both
take a hit. In Los Angeles, for example, Bang airs on
Fox-owned KTTV, which double-runs the show at 7 and
7:30 against Tribune’s double-run of Two and a Half Men.
Among adults 25-54, Bang is doing a 0.9/3 at 7 p.m.
and a 0.6/2 at 7:30, compared to Men’s 0.4/2 and 0.7/2.

“These shows should not be competing against each
other. You water down Bang’s potential that way,” says
one broadcaster.

But Fox had strong incentive to keep Bang out of Tribune’s
hands specifically to prevent that pairing, says
Bill Carroll, VP/programming, Katz Media Group.

“It has to do with where the greatest demand is,” says
Carroll. “If you don’t have Men and you are going after
a significant sitcom audience, then you were going to be
more aggressive in going after Bang. You have incentive
to keep that show away from your competitor.”

And it’s still early going. Tribune has renewed Two
and a Half Men
through 2021, and by then, the show
will have been airing in syndication for 14 years. Big
Bang
is just getting started.

TBS execs also point out that while it’s only the beginning,
they are pleased so far with Big Bang, for which
the network paid approximately $1.4 million per episode.
TBS aired the show for two weeks, then moved it
to accommodate postseason baseball.

“We consider these first few weeks a soft launch,”
says Jon Marks, TBS senior VP of entertainment research.
“We hadn’t been out there promoting it because
we knew that baseball, which we are also glad to have,
would be disruptive.”

So far, Big Bang has improved its Tuesday time periods
on TBS compared to last year by 23% among
adults 18-49 and 63% among adults 25-54. The show
has improved its Thursday time periods compared to
last year by 3% among adults 18-49 and 31% among
adults 25-54. Bang is drawing an average of 1 million
viewers in each demographic group in primetime.

Big Bang is a broadly appealing show coming off
of CBS. As we get further into the scripted half-hour
business, it has the potential to be a very good lead-in,
given the nature of its audience base,” says Michael
Wright, executive VP of programming for TBS, TNT
and TCM.

E-mail comments to palbiniak@gmail.com
and follow her on Twitter: @PaigeA

30 Rock: Lower Number, Less Pressure

NBCUniversal’s 30 Rock, which premiered in syndication Sept. 19, opened at a 1.4 live plus same day national household rating.

Comparatively, that is a much smaller rating than The Big Bang Theory, but it’s not a bad performance considering that 30 Rock airs almost uniquely in late fringe and late-night time slots. NBCU sold 30 Rock to broadcasters on an all-barter basis, so the sitcom’s ratings don’t need to be as high to cover costs.

30 Rock is considered more niche and upscale than either Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men. The show has also been much more widely available via digital platforms, potentially lessening viewers’ interest in seeing it in syndication.

And while 30 Rock is sold on Viacom’s Comedy Central and Tribune’s WGN America, its national rating is almost entirely derived from its broadcast runs. Less than 0.1 of its national rating comes from its cable runs, because Comedy Central bought it for cash and thus includes no barter advertising. 30 Rock’s ratings on WGN America, which is distributed to only 60% of the country, are very low. —PA

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