TBS Analysis - September 2011



* Bold denotes programming change


Monday night starts the week with a strong FAMILY GUY block. Tuesdays are once again where THE OFFICE can be found. Wednesday is the female skewing night, with Tyler Perry programming and ARE WE THERE YET? bringing women and African-American viewers to the network. Thursday and Friday are mostly about movies, with FAMILY GUY occasionally leading in or out. Weekend prime is also all about movies, but can house network specials as well.


LIVE PRIMETIME RATINGS COMPARISON September 2011 vs. September 2010 (% 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

SEPTEMBER 2011: TBS dropped 10% of its core 18-49 primetime audience vs. last year, but that is an improvement over the way things have been shaking out. Since February the network has been taking year-over-year double digit declines on the bottom line as the programs that had been holding up the network started to sag. TBS hit a low-point in July, and is now trying to figure out how to rebuild those valuable and fickle 18-49 audiences.

Back in the late ‘00s, FAMILY GUY led TBS to a new era of young, male audiences, erasing all images of Andy Griffith forever. But with 40 runs a month on TBS and wide-spread syndication across the dial, the program fell victim to overexposure. A similar fate met Tyler Perry’s Wednesday night fare. That franchise was bringing in significant numbers of African American women, but they have begun to leave as well. Compared to September 2010, FAMILY GUY’s men 18-49 ratings are down 18% while MEET THE BROWNS’ women 18-49 are down 59%. HOUSE OF PAYNE with new episodes this year is delivering the same women 18-49 ratings as last year’s repeats.

After watching these declines for months, TBS has taken action. FAMILY GUY is getting relief with THE BIG BANG THEORY. The off-net program joined the line-up at the end of this month on a Tuesday and a Thursday. Numbers were strong, as the program drew a solid male comp (not quite as strong as FAMILY GUY) and decent ratings. Led by THE BIG BANG THEORY and four top-ranked plays of Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail, TBS was able to pull up primetime ratings vs. last month by 4% among men and 6% among women. Which doesn’t sound like much, but the momentum is finally headed in the right direction.

Going forward, THE BIG BANG THEORY is scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, displacing Wednesday night’s line-up of HOUSE OF PAYNE, MEET THE BROWNS, ARE WE THERE YET? and (new program) FOR BETTER OR WORSE to Fridays.

Why not see if the new program revitalizes Wednesday nights before moving a long-running and successful franchise off to low-usage Friday nights? Probably for the same reason TBS took its eye off of primetime for so long – CONAN. The latenight show needs the young male lead-in that FAMILY GUY and THE BIG BANG THEORY can deliver. Industry speculation is that TBS paid the high price for THE BIG BANG THEORY primarily to shore up its investment in Conan from the get-go.

There are more positive signs for TBS’ primetime in the future. Some acquired Warner Brothers movies should start to hit the schedule soon, and a new slate of half hour comedies is in active development, with some big names (including Conan O’Brien) attached to the projects.