Monday night starts the week with a FAMILY GUY stack, and Tuesday follows with a stack of THE BIG BANG THEORY. The two programs mix it up on Wednesday and Thursday nights with FAMILY GUY leading into THE BIG BANG THEORY. Friday through Sunday were all about movies on TBS for years, but now Tyler Perry programming brings women and African-American viewers to the network on Fridays, after getting the boot from its long-standing home on Wednesday nights. THE BIG BANG THEORY has staked a claim to yet another night – Saturday – where it runs from 8PM to 10PM each week, displacing a weekend movie.
MAY 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
LIVE + SAME DAY PRIMETIME RATINGS COMPARISON May 2012 vs. May 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
MAY 2012: TBS led the CableU 30 ratings charge this May with 38% year over year growth on core adults 18-49 ratings. This growth was on the back of THE BIG BANG THEORY, which continues to push the net up near its previous FAMILY GUY peak of a few years ago. TBS has been taking criticism for acquiring its way to ratings success, and so this month’s debut of MEN AT WORK is important to both ratings and the reputation of TBS as a programmer.
THE BIG BANG THEORY is a phenomenal boon for TBS. Wherever the program is scheduled, ratings climb – this month by about 80% on men 18-49. But, even BANG is not without kinks. THE BIG BANG THEORY’s audience is dropping small bits of audience month over month, and with such a big presence it is affecting the bottom line. So even with average 38% primetime growth vs. last year, TBS took a 9% drop vs. last month.
Another trend to watch on TBS is the age of the audience. The total audience aged 13% vs. last year – BANG is not as young as FAMILY GUY. Monday night, the only night with a full FAMILY GUY stack, is by far the youngest night of the week – the only night with a median age below 30. The total primetime average age is hovering right near 40.
Both returning programs from last year, HOUSE OF PAYNE and FAMILY GUY took big year over year losses. PAYNE was off by 35% among its core women 18-49 viewers and FAMILY GUY was off by 19% among its core men 18-49 viewers.
And so, with fading returning programming, new programming becomes even more important. Enter MEN AT WORK, TBS’ new original comedy, its first since 2010’s short-lived GLORY DAZE and NEIGHBORS FROM HELL. It premiered on a Thursday night, up against NBA Play-offs on ESPN, AX MEN on History and movies on FX. The back-to-back premieres performed well, averaging a 1.2 A18-49 SD rating (TV BY THE NUMBERS), and topping all other cable competition except ESPN in the time slot. Of note, it did drop audience from the 9:30 BANG lead-in. And, while the two episode premiere Adult 18-49 average beat the 58 ep. average for THE BIG BANG THEORY, 10 eps. of BANG topped MEN AT WORK.
Critically, MEN AT WORK was not well received. “Not much about “Men at Work” feels fresh,” New York Times. “The sitcom equivalent of empty calories.” Variety. “Forgettable,” hitflix.com. TV.com said "don't bother" to even watch it. The Washington Post described the show as a "rerun," indicating that it feels stale and old, as if the creators had missed out on the evolution of comedy in the past 30 years. – Huff Po. But those critics probably weren’t FAMILY GUY fans either. Time will tell how the show resonates with viewers.