TBS Analysis



The TBS schedule went without change for over a year before THE BIG BANG THEORY started up in 2011, and then it barely changed again for another nine months. But at the beginning of 2013, things started to get interesting at TBS.

A long slate of greenlit pilots and scheduled launches have been announced for the upcoming season. Competition shows (BAD ASS GAME SHOW, 2014; WHO GETS THE LAST LAUGH, April; TRUST ME I’M A GAME SHOW HOST, 2013), a couple of sitcoms (DO IT YOURSELF starring Bill Engvall and GROUND FLOOR, pilots ordered) and a hidden camera show (DEAL WITH IT, 2013) were all confirmed. And that’s in addition to January’s launch of new game show KING OF THE NERDS on Thursday nights, COUGAR TOWN’s start on TBS on Tuesday nights, the acquisition of syndicated RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, AND the cancellation of the original hour-long comedy WEDDING BAND. In February the Tyler Perry female-skewing comedies were gone from the line-up as well, having found a new home on OWN.

So to summarize, Monday night starts the week with a FAMILY GUY stack, and Tuesday follows with a stack of THE BIG BANG THEORY. Originals (COUGAR TOWN, and then WHO GETS THE LAST TLAUGH) slipped in at 10PM on Tuesday nights, enjoy the benefits of a BIG BANG sandwich. The two programs mix it up on Wednesday and Thursday nights with FAMILY GUY leading into THE BIG BANG THEORY, which is in place at the end of the stack to give CONAN or original programming the biggest lead-in possible. Thursday nights are also a home for originals at 10PM (KING OF THE NERDS, MEN AT WORK). For now, Fridays are comprised of a couple of FAMILY GUYs and a movie. THE BIG BANG THEORY has staked a claim to yet another night – Saturday – where it now runs through the full three-hour primetime block each week.


LIVE + SAME DAY PRIMETIME RATINGS COMPARISON April 2013 vs. April 2012 (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




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Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

APRIL 2013: TBS’ bottom-line primetime average barely nudged vs. last year. Household ratings were down just 3% while adult 18-49 ratings were off by 1%. And yet, every single night of the week moved by double digits. In the end, for every inch of ground TBS was able to take over, it lost another inch somewhere else.

In the “ground lost” department, FAMILY GUY continues its slide, down by 18% on core men 18-49 vs. last year and another 16% vs. March, which was down vs. February. Its presence is slightly diminished, but still strong at 11 eps per week. It is now delivering sub-par ratings, even for men. Also pulling down the average is movies. They also have a smaller presence, and they also continue to underperform the primetime average by increasing amounts.

Leading the “ground gained” field is the fact that TBS is now airing originals in its primetime space. Much maligned for relying upon acquired sitcoms, movies and sporting events, TBS is currently airing COUGAR TOWN, MEN AT WORK and WHO GETS THE LAST LAUGH. The three programs are also delivering above average ratings.  COUGAR TOWN slipped last month but was back up in April as it finished out its first season on TBS. Of note, the second part of the two-part finale dropped audience from the first part, which dropped from the week before. Not a great way to end the season. Still, it has been renewed for another (although slightly shorter) season next year. WHO GETS THE LAST LAUGH was up next in the Tuesday / 10PM timeslot. The program started out slower than COUGAR TOWN, but surpassed it with its second run. We’ll see where the audience settles in May.

Neither of these two originals performed as well as THE BIG BANG THEORY, which served as both a lead-in and lead-out program. As has been well documented, BANG is carrying TBS right now, delivering record ratings for the net. A year and a half into its run the program is still holding, up 4% on adults 18-49 vs. last year.

On Thursdays, MEN AT WORK was back for its sophomore season. Like the Tuesday night originals, MEN received a BANG lead-in and lead-out, and underperformed BANG. It also overdelivered the network average and its program average was almost exactly the same as WHO GETS THE LAST LAUGH this month. It was down 15% from its June 2012 performance. Overall, a respectable performance.

With the aid of BANG and the originals, TBS was able to capture the 18-49 ad-supported ratings crown this month. As long as BANG holds on, TBS will be the one to beat in the months to come.