Friday, November 09, 2018

Fri-Yay: When Is It Time to Stop Looking at Live Ratings?; NBC Sets and Shifts January 2019 Lineup

It's time for another edition of Fri-Yay! That means we will take a look back on some sitcom happenings in recent days or weeks or other fun sitcomy stuff. It's a sitcom lover's paradise! Happy Fri-Yay!

ABC, NBC, The CW, Fox and CBS

by Vincent

This fall has been disastrous for network TV ratings. Huge, giant sitcoms like Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory are down to all-time low numbers. Veteran hits like The Goldbergs and Superstore are at levels well below even just last season. And while there have been new sitcoms such as The Neighborhood and The Kids Are Alright to do fairly well, their numbers would've been deemed cancel-worthy just a few seasons ago. Not to mention shows like Fresh Off the Boat and Speechless, moved to Friday nights only to see almost their entire live audience abandon them. It's been a grim fall for sitcoms on network TV, even ones generally doing well, at least if your name isn't The Conners. And yet, when everything is so low, one has to ask...is it time to stop looking at live ratings as a measure for success?

There's no doubt that the live, overnight ratings (the ones that are still highly publicized) are still key to networks. These ratings are the best measures we have of how many people are watching the advertisements that make these shows profitable and keep networks in business. And yet...how many people do you know in the year 2018 that actually make it a priority to watch shows live? Probably a lot less than in 2008, or even just 5 years ago. Every year, more people turn to DVR and streaming, to the point where DVR and streaming numbers are double and triple what people are watching live. It seems that networks are slowly figuring out how to make money off these methods too, particularly streaming. You look at a network like The CW - a network whose shows all have fairly tiny live viewership numbers - and see a network that is basically still profitable because it makes deals with Netflix to air its shows, likely because Netflix knows their shows attract audiences on streaming, particularly young audiences who are not watching shows live. That's how shows like iZombie or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - shows that very, very few people are watching live - manage to make multiple seasons. That would've been unthinkable ten years ago, but it's where things are heading.

Other networks are not quite at that level yet, but we're certainly getting close. Granted, we haven't progressed enough that we're free of high-profile cancellations - remember when Fox wiped out nearly its entire comedy slate last year? - but we're certainly getting to a point where networks are looking at other metrics to bring shows back. For example, there's no live ratings reason why CBS should've held onto Madam Secretary for as long as it has (it's consistently one of broadcast TV's lowest-rated shows in the key 18-49 demo) but syndication money keeps it profitable for CBS. It's also why we're nearly at the halfway point of November and we've yet to see a show cancelled - and this is the third year in a row where networks waited that long or nearly that long to cancel the first show of the season. (Previously, it was rare to make it through the first 2 weeks of the season without a show receiving the ax.) It's not all about live ratings anymore - it's about growing and building and audience. Live ratings aren't completely irrelevant (even if they're not cancelled yet, you can bet miserably-rated shows like I Feel Bad and The Alec Baldwin Show will not make it to the end of the 2018-2019 season) but we're finally at a place where they really no longer tell the whole story.


NBC

NBC is shifting the premiere of Dwayne Johnson's new athletic competition series The Titan Games to Thursday, Jan. 3 from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT. The series will air in its regular timeslot on Thursdays from 8-9 p.m. beginning Jan. 10. The move of The Titan Games to Thursday keeps NBC's highly successful all-Chicago Wednesday lineup intact. Brooklyn Nine-Nine will premiere Thursday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. and air weekly in that timeslot thru May 16. The Good Place will shift to 9:30 p.m. beginning Thursday, Jan. 10 and air in that timeslot through its season finale on Jan. 24. Will & Grace will move to 9:30 p.m. beginning Thursday, Jan. 31 and will air thru April 4. Superstore will be preempted before returning March 7 (thru May 16) when the 8-10 p.m. two-hour comedy block returns with all original programming.

I Feel Bad, which was always intended as a 13-episode season because a pair of upcoming comedies still need to be scheduled (Abby's, A.P. Bio), will conclude in December. A decision on its future will be determined at a later date. In the recent past, NBC has ordered 13-episode seasons for a handful of comedies, including The Good Place and A.P. Bio.




Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, January 20

The Simpsons - "Treehouse of Horror XXIX" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Homer wins an oyster-eating contest against the mythical Cthulhu; Springfield is overrun by plant body-snatchers; Lisa finally snaps; Mr. Burns opens a retirement home with some Jurassic upgrades.

Bob's Burgers - "Live and Let Fly" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The kids seek revenge on their school guidance counselor; they get entangled in sibling rivalry between two pilots; Linda and Bob put their game faces on when Teddy invites them to a paper airplane contest.

Family Guy - "Send in Stewie, Please" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Stewie gets sent to see his school's child psychologist for a surprising session, he reveals major secrets about himself.

The Cool Kids - "Hank the Cradle Robber" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Hank starts dating a much younger woman, the gang suspects she may be taking advantage of him.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 14)

Friday, January 18

  • Maura Tierney (NewsRadio) - Watch Maura on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Elizabeth Banks (Scrubs) - Elizabeth visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. She talks about The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Andy appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie/Malibu Country) and Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) - Lily and Jane are guests on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Pete Holmes (Crashing) - Pete appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Molly Ringwald (Townies/The Facts of Life) - Molly talks about All These Small Moments on People Now at 12pm.
  • Don Cheadle (Black Monday/House of Lies/The Golden Palace) - Don talks about Black Monday on ABC's GMA Day at 1pm.
  • Dave Franco (Scrubs/Do Not Disturb) - Dave talks about If Beale Street Could Talk on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Adam Pally (Champaign ILL/Making History/The Mindy Project/Happy Endings) and Sam Richardson (Champaign ILL/Detroiters/Veep) - Adam and Sam talk about Champaign ILL on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December/January)

Step by Step - The Complete Third Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Sixth Season Fuller House - The Complete Third Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season The Game - The Complete Series

11/01 - Episodes - Season 5
11/05 - Robin Williams - Comic Genius (includes Mork & Mindy)
11/06 - American Dad! - Volume 13
11/16 - Man with a Plan - Season One
11/20 - Step by Step - The Complete Third Season
11/27 - What I Like About You - The Complete Third Season
11/28 - The Great Indoors - Season 1 (The Complete Series)
12/04 - Family Guy - Season Sixteen
12/04 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Sixth Season
12/18 - Our Cartoon President - Season One
01/08 - Family Guy - 20 Greatest Hits
01/22 - Fuller House - The Complete Third Season
01/22 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season (WBShop.com)
01/29 - Ballers - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
01/29 - Crashing - The Complete Second Season
01/29 - The Game - The Complete Series
01/29 - Kidding - Season One
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest