Thursday ratings analysis – Bigger ‘Bang,’ but smaller ‘Parks’ and ‘Men’

[As promised, I’m going to start doing some additional ratings analysis a bit after the morning Fast National numbers come in each morning/afternoon. It’s a way to get away from merely the regurgitation of data as quickly as possible at 8:30 a.m., though I’ll still be doing that. It’s possible that next week, I may push the analysis to the afternoon after Final figures become available. I’m trying to get a hang of a routine. I’ll also be doing some Live+3 and Live+7 analysis this season as those numbers become available.]
Thursday is traditionally the most valuable night for advertisers and therefore for TV networks, making it a ratings battleground. Of course, thanks to “The Big Bang Theory,” the battle is a bit of a rout, especially when CBS can air two episodes of the Emmy-winning comedy. 
“The Big Bang Theory” is Thursday, September 26’s obvious Fast Nationals ratings winner, but it also made “The Crazy Ones” into a clear winner, at least for one week. We know “The Michael J. Fox Show” isn’t a winner, but it’s too early to call it a loser. It’s not too early, though, to start worrying about “Parks and Recreation,” or at least its long-term future. 
Click through for my full analysis…
*** Well, that 8 p.m. hour is sure a laugher. “Big Bang Theory” draws 18.9 million. The other four networks combined draw 15.8 million (if you add in Univision, that five-network blob finally beats CBS). “Big Bang Theory” does a 5.6 rating among adults 18-49, while the other four networks combine for a 5.0 (again, Univision would put the non-CBSes on top). In its half-hour premiere last year, “Big Bang Theory” only did a 5 in the key demo (and that was with a bump for Fast Nationals). The only way to diminish the strength of those numbers is to point out that there were several weeks in January when “Big Bang Theory” did over a 6.0, peaking with a 6.3 on January 10. Those were against reduced competition and “Big Bang Theory” was under 15 million and under a 4.5 for its finale in May, against “American Idol” and also the “Office” pre-finale. The bottom line is that people like “Big Bang Theory” in general and the less there is to attract them elsewhere, the more likely they are to just go to CBS by default. “Once Upon a Time” and “Vampire Diaries” will probably siphon off some young female viewers, but among women 18-49, “Big Bang Theory” still did a 6.0 rating, with “The X Factor” a distant second with a 2.8 rating. There’s no demo in which the “Big Bang Theory” numbers aren’t insane.
[UPDATE: Adding to the insanity of the “Big Bang Theory” numbers: In Final figures, the show’s 8:30 episode ticked up to 20.44 million viewers, making it the show’s most watched episode to date. “Big Bang Theory” also went up to a 6.1 rating among adults 18-49, a jump of a whopping 0.3 for that one episode.]
*** We have a fresh Most Popular New Show of the Season with “The Crazy Ones” drawing 15.61 million viewers. “The Crazy Ones” is also the top new comedy of the season among adults 18-49, passing “The Goldbergs.” “The Crazy Ones” could not, however, top ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” as the top new premiere among adults 18-49. You can easily point to the sizable drop from “Big Bang Theory,” but what would be the point? That’s a good premiere for “The Crazy Ones.” When people say that lead-ins are irrelevant, I laugh. They’re not as relevant as they once were, maybe, but… Case-in-point. “The Crazy Ones” got crushed in female demos by “Grey’s Anatomy,” but other than that, you can’t really say anything negative about these numbers. And these numbers won’t mean a thing next week, when “The Millers” gets the advantage of the “Big Bang Theory” lead-in and “The Crazy Ones” has to stand on its own. But for one week? CBS has no worries here!
*** CBS does have some minor worries in the second half of the night. Ashton Kutcher’s 2011 premiere on “Two and a Half Men” drew over 27.7 million viewers and did a 10.3 rating in the key demo. Amber Tamblyn’s 2013 premiere on “Two and a Half Men” drew 11.5 million and a 2.9 key demo. Now obviously I know these things aren’t comparable in any way — Different stature of actors, different scale of promotion, different nights of the week, etc. But I like mentioning the Kutcher/”Men” premiere because it’s one of the most shocking ratings performances since I started doing this. There’s nothing horrifying about the “Men” premiere. It was down from last year, sure, but it’s an old show and eventually it really will have to end. The concern isn’t this week, but next week, when it can’t count on having 15+ million viewers as its lead-in. Again, though, I don’t worry on behalf of “Men,” but rather for “Elementary.” But I don’t worry as much about “Elementary” as some people are. Yes, the 10.1 million viewers and 2.1 key demo was far below what “Elementary” premiered at last year, but it’s above what “Elementary” did in its finale in May, plus while “Scandal” is many things, it’s still generally lower rated than “Grey’s Anatomy.” “Elementary” just isn’t an especially big hit, which is too bad, because it’s a really sturdy show.
*** Speaking of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Every couple weeks, somebody on my Twitter feed will make a “Wait. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is still on?” joke. I don’t know what to say to those people. Not only is “Grey’s Anatomy” still on, but 9.3 million viewers and a 3.4 key demo rating in today’s TV? That’s still a hit. If you look at female demos, which are ABC’s sweet spot, “Grey’s Anatomy” pretty much dominates — a 4.8 rating among women 18-49, topping the 4.2 for “Crazy Ones” and a 4.5 among women 18-34, topping the 3.5 for “X Factor” (“Crazy Ones” did only a 2.6, if you want a sense of its age skew). And “Grey’s Anatomy” gets among the biggest Live+7 bumps of any drama on TV. So yes, “Grey’s Anatomy” is still on TV and in Season 10, it’s relatively huge.
*** First, the frank part: NBC did not give “The Michael J. Fox Show” a 22-episode order without seeing a pilot just to draw 7.3 million viewers and do a 2.1 rating in the key demo. Period. I dug around for a bit looking for demos that are more encouraging and it’s really a struggle. The most important thing for NBC, though, is improvement and, for the night, NBC was up over premiere week last year, though a lot of that has to do with comparing “Parenthood” to “Rock Center.” The best you can say about “The Michael J. Fox Show” is that it didn’t fall at the half-hour and that it did what it did without any lead-in, because the “Parks and Recreation” numbers stunk. That will be good preparation for next week, when the “Welcome to the Family” and “Sean Saves the World” numbers also stink. If “Michael J. Fox Show” stays in this general vicinity (and the other comedies tank like I assume they will), it’s not a hit, but it takes the mantle of “Comedy that’s doing better than other NBC comedies and therefore NBC won’t worry about it.”
*** That mantle used to be held by “Parks and Recreation.” Sadly, that’s not the case right now. Those “Parks and Recreation” numbers are literally unspinnable. Like all of the networks, NBC has a resident numbers genius whose job it is to give statistical perspective for each night’s performance, generally finding the nooks and crannies and demos in which the figures were up or won the hour or somesuch. With only 3.33 million viewers and a 1.3 key demo rating, however, “Parks and Rec” came in low enough that NBC barely bothered to try spin. Well, there’s this: “Parks and Rec” was No.2 for the hour among men 18-34 and men 18-49. This is true. It’s not a particularly *close* second, but second is second!
*** Guess I’ll mention FOX. “The X Factor” continued its weirdly productive premiere week, rising a hair from last Thursday. I would not have predicted that and probably FOX wouldn’t have predicted it either. Again, the discrepancy between last year and this year’s “X Factor” numbers is big, but still. On the other hand, “Glee” was down from last year’s premiere, but flat with last year’s finale. I don’t know if it’s fair to have expected a Beatles theme to give “Glee” any boost at all, given its demos. The big test for “Glee” will come in two episodes with the Cory Monteith tribute. 
So that’s Thursday!