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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 now runs through the full three-hour primetime block each week.


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

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

MARCH 2013: TBS had a strong first quarter and a strong March this year, as it staked its claim to the ratings crown among core adult demos. But the net is still dependent on its acquired series and sports for its big wins. TBS was home to spill-over NCAA Championship games from sister net TNT this month as March Madness took over a total of seven nights, and helped push up the average male primetime ratings by 30% over February (while female ratings didn’t move). Basketball ran on TBS last year as well, and bottom line ratings were virtually the same year-to-year, off by two or three percentage points.

Because basketball was relegated to Thursday through Sunday nights on TBS, for the most part all that was pre-empted was movies. The network still managed to get in the last two episodes of season 1 of KING OF THE NERDS, 5 episodes of COUGAR TOWN, 45 telecasts of FAMILY GUY and 82 runs plus 6 special episodes of THE BIG BANG THEORY.

THE BIG BANG THEORY continues to dominate TBS, and most of cable. According to TBS, it “ranked as basic cable's #1 off-net series for the quarter with total viewers and key adult demos. For the last week of the quarter, THE BIG BANG THEORY accounted for 19 of basic cable's Top 20 sitcom telecasts with total viewers and adults 18-49, as well as 18 of the Top 20 with adults 18-34.” Outside of basketball it was the clear leader on TBS as well. Its ratings are down by about 3% vs. both last month and last year…hopefully it will rebound when basketball is over and the schedule is back to normal.

FAMILY GUY dipped last month, pointing to possible signs of trouble. It made a recovery this month, up 14% among men 18-49, but still delivering 13% below last year’s levels.

While contributing just a small amount to the inventory, it was the originals that had our attention this month. COUGAR TOWN is in its third month on TBS. While ratings held in February, they are down 19% among core women 18-49 this March. TBS says that among adults 18-49, it's the network's top-performing original primetime series ever. We see that it holds about 60% of the BIG BANG audience lead-in, which is enough to put it ahead of FAMILY GUY, NERDS and movies again this month. And, apparently it is enough for a renewal as well…TBS has announced a shortened 13-episode fifth season (the current season is 15 eps.) set to premiere in 2014.

KING OF THE NERDS is also set with a renewal for next year. This month it closed out its freshman season with a nice finish, up 13% on adult 18-49 ratings vs. last month.

TBS has momentum at the start of the year. The development slate has never been more robust, and ratings are moving in the right direction. Two of last year’s new series are about to return for the make or break sophomore season; hopefully the momentum will continue.