Viewership Deep Dive: How Some of TV’s Top Comedy Series Compare

As part of our continuing series of deep-dives into viewership and advertising trends surrounding different TV genres, today we’re taking a look at four broadcast network comedies: the traditional CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory (now in its last season), NBC’s fantasy-comedy The Good Place, and, for good measure, two family comedies: ABC’s long-running Modern Family and its newer network sibling The Goldbergs. Below: advertising insights courtesy of, fans’ emotional drivers from Canvs, viewership crossover stats from Inscape and a look at the shows’ social video footprints from Tubular Labs. (Note: the data is through Oct. 28 and covers new episodes only.)

It should come as no surprise that, according to advertising analytics firm, spending during The Big Bang Theory on CBS has dwarfed all the other shows. Brands have spent an estimated $20.6 million on commercials that have run during new episodes so far this season, with Subaru topping the chart, followed by Apple Watch and breast cancer medication Verzenio.

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Looking at industries overall, wireless companies have made big investments so far, each appearing in the top five lists for industry spend in three out of the four shows, as do auto makers.

When looking at viewer attention during commercials across these series, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family win out, with the former getting an average iSpot Attention Index of 109, receiving 9% fewer interruptions than the average ad (interruptions include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV), and the latter receiving 102 (2% fewer interruptions than average).

We also partnered with emotion measurement AI company Canvs to discover what was driving viewers’ Emotional Reactions (ERs) to each of these comedies. For the purposes of this analysis, we focused on original posts driving ERs (and excluded retweets). For The Big Bang Theory, lead character Sheldon is a huge emotional driver for fans, while supporting character Dylan sparks emotion for Modern Family viewers. Chidi drives the most emotion for fans of The Good Place, while a recent episode of The Goldbergs that featured actor Robert Englund (best known for portraying Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street) sparked the most ERs from a character season-to-date.

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Crossover viewership data from Inscape, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 9 million smart TVs and devices, shows varied crossover among these series. Also, a note about methodology: You have to do more than just flip past a station with your remote to count as a “crossover viewer” in Inscape’s system. For the data below, the minimum threshold was set to two minutes. Some specific insights:

  • The highest crossover (54%) was between The Goldbergs and Modern Family, which makes sense because they’re both on ABC.
  • 50% of Modern Family viewers also watch The Big Bang Theory
  • The lowest crossover rate (9.7%) was between The Big Bang Theory and The Good Place.

An analysis from social video analytics company Tubular reveals a slight difference in online video strategy between these series. Both Modern Family and The Goldbergs have posted more clips to Twitter than other social platforms this season, while The Big Bang Theory has prioritized posting on YouTube and The Good Place has posted more to Facebook.

But one thing rings true across all of the shows: promo clips have been the most-viewed, regardless of platform, with Modern Family’s Facebook video about the season premiere leading the way with 3.7 million views.

It’s also worth calling out a clip from The Goldbergs which was posted just last week and is already that show’s most-viewed social video this season with nearly 2 million views, the majority of which occurred in the first three days, according to Tubular’s V3 rating. This super-quick clip features Englund (as mentioned above) and promotes his guest appearance on the Oct. 24 episode.