TBS Analysis - December 2010



* Bold denotes programming change


Monday night is animation night with FAMILY GUY running straight through from eight to eleven. After months of fading ratings, THE OFFICE is gone from Tuesdays, replaced with FAMILY GUY and the new TBS original GLORY DAZE. Wednesday is the female skewing night, with Tyler Perry programming bringing women and African-American viewers 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.


LIVE PRIMETIME RATINGS COMPARISON December 2010 vs. December 2009 (% 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

DECEMBER 2010: The main focus for TBS continues to be CONAN, so let's get that out of the way. As expected, audience levels fell since November, the highly promoted premiere month, and have settled down between one and one and a half million for target adults 18-49. TBS claims Conan has a permanent home with them as long as he wants it, and released numbers that include plus seven data, which position CONAN as the highest rated and youngest late-night talk show:

Adults 18-49
CONAN 1,443,000
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno 1,345,000
Late Show with David Letterman 1,151,000
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 1,064,000
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon 835,000
The Colbert Report 822,000
Chelsea Lately 784,000
Jimmy Kimmel Live! 724,000
Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson 707,000
Lopez Tonight 557,000

Median Age
Lopez Tonight 33
Chelsea Lately 35
The Colbert Report 39
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 42
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon 49
Jimmy Kimmel Live! 52
Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson 53
Late Show with David Letterman 56
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno 56

* Turner Research from Nielsen Media Research data. Final Live+7 data (11/08/10-12/26/10) blended with Live+Same Day (12/27/10-12/30/10). Based on premiere episodes, Monday-Thursday telecasts only. Time-shifted data based on difference between Live+7 vs Live (11/08/10-12/23/10).

And now, back to primetime. Despite several successful efforts, TBS' bottom-line dropped very slightly vs. both last year and last month, with three to four percent declines among 18-49 demo ratings.

One way a network can boost ratings is to add new programming, another is to maximize higher rated programs and another is to minimize lower rated programs. TBS did all of those things on Tuesday nights, replacing under-performing THE OFFICE with top performer FAMILY GUY to lead in to new program GLORY DAZE, which premiered last month.  On the strength of FAMILY GUY, young male ratings for the night were up 40% vs. last year. However, GLORY DAZE lost 20% of its audience from its premiere month and consistently lost sizable chunks of male audience from its FAMILY GUY lead-in. On the plus side, it did deliver well above THE OFFICE' average. No word on a renewal or a cancellation as of yet.

On Wednesdays, a couple of new episodes of HOUSE OF PAYNE and a lot of new episodes of MEET THE BROWNS helped pull the night back up vs. last month. The bad news is the numbers fell 10% short of last year, indicating a waning interest in the Tyler Perry fare. New episodes of ARE WE THERE YET? start in January, which should help freshen up the night.

Seasonal specials were a highlight of the rest of the line-up this December. TBS' highest rated annual "24 HOURS OF A CHRISTMAS STORY" once again topped the charts, and performed on par with last year. FUNNIEST COMMERCIALS dropped audience from last year, but was still a top performer. Theatrical Fred Claus also hit the top of the ratings charts. THE OFFICE HOLIDAY PARTY special pulled in subpart numbers, and will probably not become an annual tradition.


On the last press tour, TBS's chief executive Michael Wright said, "We look at every show through three filters-ratings, advertisers, and how it affects the brand of the network, and this (CONAN) is a show that checks every box." Wright added, "CONAN is a unifying theme to TBS' programs." He said it's imperative that O'Brien be the comedic voice of the network

Is Conan really helping the rest of TBS find its voice and define its brand? There is certainly a void to fill. The network seems to be having trouble launching original programming. Pre-Conan NEIGHBORS FROM HELL failed to resonate and GLORY DAZE delivered a mixed performance, even with the benefit of Conan's significant promotional aid. THE OFFICE continues to fade in ratings and in primetime presence.

Looks like the door has been opened for some over-due changes to primetime.