TBS Analysis - December 2009

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* Bold denotes programming change


TBS made a slight shift in its Monday and Tuesday male skewing sitcoms. Instead of one or two hour blocks of different sitcoms, Monday night is now all FAMILY GUY and Tuesday is all THE OFFICE. Wednesday is the female skewing night, with Tyler Perry programming bringing women to the network. Thursday and Friday start out with more FAMILY GUY leading into a movie (or vice versa). Weekend prime is usually all movies.


No specific dates announced.


LIVE PRIMETIME RATINGS COMPARISON December 2009 vs. December 2008 (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Overall, TBS lost core adult 18-49 audience on four nights out of seven vs. both last year and last month. With holiday specials and a strong slate of movies leading the way, TBS was able to deliver one of its better months in an off year.

Without new programming to give life to the line-up, last month TBS shifted around the programming it had, but the shell game doesn't seem to be working. The four regularly scheduled programs all lost core demo ratings vs. last month, and with the exception of a 7% increase among adults 18-49 for FAMILY GUY, they lost core audience vs. last year as well.

FAMILY GUY continues as the network's engine, dominating the top telecast list again, and providing the best draw, by far, for younger male viewers. Proving the strength of the program, viewers continue to flock to FAMILY GUY, no matter which night or time it appears. But, with the switch last month to wall-to-wall Monday nights, THE OFFICE was by itself on Tuesdays. Without FAMILY GUY to lean on THE OFFICE is not faring well. It lost an additional 10% of core audience since last month's precipitous decline, and a full one-fourth of its men 18-49 ratings vs. last year.

MEET THE BROWNS and HOUSE OF PAYNE on Wednesdays did some flip-flopping, but the only time the numbers were impacted was when new episodes aired. While both programs put in top performing telecasts, they are both down among core women viewers vs. last month, and HOUSE OF PAYNE is down 26% on women ratings vs. last year.

Holiday specials are still a specialty at TBS. SEINFELD FESTIVUS got just two primetime runs this year (vs. four for Festivus '08), and delivered the same amount of households, more men and slightly fewer women. Another TBS classic holiday stunt, 24 HOURS OF A CHRISTMAS STORY continued its rein as the best rated movie title, but it did not do as well as last year's primetime marathon. THE OFFICE HOLIDAY PARTY was another holiday gift from the folks at TBS. In its Saturday night timeslot it underdelivered the time period. It isn't all about the ratings this timeof year, but we can't help adding that The Santa Clause, last year's second-highest movie rated title, was missing from TBS' holiday line-up in "09, and its ratings impact was missed as well.

Two other specials aired this December. An encore of the MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE pilot ran on 12/8, the day after its TNT debut. It pulled in strong ratings, but with the program's 25-54 skew and its dramatic angle, it is better placed on TNT (for the record, it performed significantly better on TNT as well).

FUNNIEST COMMERCIALS was another annual special running this month. Ratings were about one-third lower than last year.

So what WAS up this December?? Mondays and Thursdays, with the help of FAMILY GUY. Some movies popped the numbers, particularly Dumb and Dumber and Talladega Nights.

TBS is ready for some new programming and new strategies for the new year. See our CableU Need to Know section to see what the network has in store.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW: Turner execs Michael Wright and Steve Koonin have reportedly crafted TBS' strategy for 2010. TBS will employ the TNT-tested formula of adding more of what works, or in their words, "emulating the acquired product that is already working." Specifically, they are looking at tried and true formats from tried and true producers. Animated NEIGHBORS FROM HELL from the creators of FAMILY GUY and ARE WE THERE YET? from the creators of HOUSE OF PAYNE are on their way. A new component of the strategy is to develop a program with the creators of USA's MONK. With this move, TBS will introduce an hourlong program to its lineup, and will pair it with the weekend theatricals. TBS says it is looking to develop a few more hourlongs, and according to Variety, the net has several projects currently in the script stage.

At the 2009/2010 upfront presentation, TBS' original programming chief Michael Wright outlined the network's goals / positioning. "By dedicating ourselves to comedy and building a foundation with some of the best comedies on television, TBS has become younger and more diverse. TBS is also dedicated to quality, original programming. We are working with great comedy talent to create shows that complement our lineup of acquired series."

TBS has expanded their comedy festival coverage and led the rebirth of sitcoms on cable. With a slate of programming successes and record growth among young demos, TBS is able to attract top talent to its programs.

TBS plans to expand its late night presence, and has a slew of late night comedies in development, with LOPEZ TONIGHT as a foundation.  Michael Wright has said "We see late-night as a real growth opportunity."  While he said Comedy Central and MTV have "sort of cornered the market" on "snarky" shows aimed at young men. As TBS develops its latenight comedy, Leno settles into primetime, putting a kink and a lot of unknowns into the latenight dynamic.

According to TBS' original programming chief Michael Wright,. "Because we don't have to aggregate the same size audience as (the broadcast networks) do, we have greater freedom to pursue different forms and grow the audience," he says. TBS is looking to offer "feel-good" comedy for the late-20s, date-night movie audience. The "everyman" or "blue-collar" brand of humor seems to resonate best with TBS audiences. But the broadcast pendulum has swung, and the networks are producing more single and multi-camera sitcoms than in the past, and TBS is facing stiffer competition from the networks this season.