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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 the new year, 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. COUGAR TOWN is slipped in at 10PM on Tuesday nights, enjoying 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. 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 runs from 8PM to 10PM each week.

WEDDING BAND aired on Saturday nights at 10PM. However, the net has gone back to a half-hour strategy for its comedies. Reality, competition and unscripted series are starting to roll out.


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

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

FEBRUARY 2013: TBS lost just five percent of its adult 18-49 audience vs. both last month and last year. The net claimed it was basic cable's #1 network in primetime delivery of both adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 for the month. COUGAR TOWN, TBS’ sitcom relaunch, continues to build and new game show KING OF THE NERDS has already received a renewal order. But it is not all good news this month. Four different nights dropped by more than 20% vs. last year, indicating there is trouble that lies beneath.

The biggest single source of the trouble comes from this month’s performance from FAMILY GUY. The acquired sitcom seemed fine in January, but this month the average program dropped one-fourth of its core men 18-49 ratings compared to both last year and last month. Its average men 18-49 rating dropped below the primetime average. FAMILY GUY has been on a heavy TBS rotation for years…has the program finally run its course?

The loss of Tyler Perry’s programming hurt the female Friday night ratings vs. last year. However, the programming has not performed well recently, and so the night’s new movie and FAMILY GUY line-up boosted men 18-49 ratings by 64% compared to January, while female ratings were even.

The movie average also performed poorly, particularly Sunday night’s ratings. This February saw a slew of strong Sunday night performers across the cable and broadcast spectrum. Cable nets without anything special running on Sunday nights saw ratings plummet for the night, and TBS was no exception.

And now for the good news. THE BIG BANG THEORY continues to dominate the line-up and the ratings rankers. TBS claims it is cable’s number one off-net series. Unlike FAMILY GUY, it held both male and female ratings vs. both month and last year. With 72 telecasts this month, the program dominated Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday nights, which are also the three nights that saw year over year and month over month growth.

On Tuesday nights at 10PM COUGAR TOWN was in its second month on TBS, comfortably sandwiched between two BIG BANG eps. The program has been a steady performer, launching with respectable numbers and holding them since its debut. The program does drop audience from its BIG BANG lead in, but it is still drawing big numbers. According to TBS the time-shifted ratings add a nice bump as well, something the net doesn’t see for its off-net series.

KING OF THE NERDS cannot make all of the same claims. The game show has been dropping audience since its second outing on January 24. Average men 18-49 ratings are 20% lower this month than last. While it dropped almost 40% of men 18-49 audience from its BIG BANG lead-in, ratings remain right near the primetime average, men 18-49 comps are very strong, and the program has received a go-ahead for another season.

TBS has a busy year planned as new half-hour sitcoms, game shows and reality programs are slated to roll out through-out the year.