Cos' Father's Day Gift

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Bill Cosby continues to provide ratings-rich content to Nick at Nite. The debut of the Cosby-produced original animated series Fatherhood generated a 1.5 household rating for the classic sitcom network.

Based on Cosby's best-selling 1994 book, the half-hour series' June 20 premiere brought in 1.8 million total viewers, increasing Nick at Nite's audience levels by 20% over last year's average for the 9 p.m. time period — ironically filled by Cosby's 1980s hit sitcom The Cosby Show, according to the network.

Among Nick at Nite's target demographic of adults 18 to 49, Fatherhood attracted 369,000 viewers and a 0.4 rating, a 33% increase in rating over last year's average.

Nick at Nite and TV Land president Larry Jones said the series — which features the voice of actor Blair Underwood as the father of three kids — connected with viewers who are looking for family-friendly entertainment. He said the show could increase ratings over its 13-episode run as awareness builds.

“Our principle for original shows on Nick at Nite is family, friendly, funny and familiar,” Jones said. “Clearly with Fatherhood, it really hit on all four F's. It's a show that people can sit down and watch with their families.”

Now the network will look to roll out a second original series, although Jones would not disclose specific details. Last December, the network announced several potential series ideas, including Zen & Buster, a Kelsey Grammer-produced vehicle about Hollywood life as seen through the eyes of dogs; Exploding Baloney, a hidden-camera show featuring parents and teachers playing good-natured practical jokes on children; Return Engagement, a comedy about retired actors who inherit a Melrose Place-type apartment complex; My Man Marty, showcasing a lost, ahead-of-its-time sitcom that finds a slot on TV; and The Tommy Lynch Project, a behind-the-scenes comedy about a hidden-camera dating show.

“Our goal, by the end of the year, will be to have a one-hour original block a week on the network,” Jones said.

Fatherhood helped Nick at Nite achieve a 1.3 rating for the week of June 14 to 20, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Nick at Nite has come under fire from other networks since Nielsen began separating its ratings measurements from channel-sharer Nickelodeon at the start of the second quarter.

Since the change, Nick at Nite has regularly finished among the top-rated networks in both total day and primetime. Full-time networks have complained that NAN is given an unfair advantage because of its part-time status.

But Jones scoffed at the criticism. He said the combined Nick/NAN rating consistently ranked among the top three to five networks, both on a 24-hour basis and in primetime.

“The only thing that changed was how Nielsen reported it, so it was basically much easier for or advertisers to access information that was already there,” he said.