PARKS AND RECREATION (NBC)
Scheduling history: Through four seasons, Parks and Recreation has almost always been a bottom-of-the hour show. It did get a handful of tries leading off the 10:00 hour during the 2010-11 season, but the vast majority of its eps have come at either 8:30 or 9:30. Its 68 episodes to date have all aired on Thursday.
See (who saw) how it all began: Parks and Rec premiered on April 9, 2009 as part of a big evening of late-spring launches the week after ER came to an end. Where better to premiere a so-called Office sister show than in between two episodes of The Office? The 8/7c edition of The Office scored a 3.4 demo, the 9/8c edition got a 3.9, and in the middle was the Parks and Rec series premiere with a nothing-special 6.88 million viewers and 3.0 demo. The show dropped into the low 2's in subsequent weeks but was usually able to build on its My Name is Earl lead-in, which was (despite Earl being on its last legs) good enough for a renewal.
The best of times: Even though it didn't premiere till midseason, season #3 was the strongest for Parks and Rec, as NBC finally tried the seemingly inevitable pairing and threw it after The Office for that season. The season three premiere hit a series high 3.2 demo on January 20, 2011. But even that represented a significant loss from its The Office lead-in (a 4.5 on that night), and the gap between the shows didn't really narrow as the spring wore on.
The worst of times: The most recent season was the lowest for Parks, as it returned to 8:30 and took a big dip from its 2010-11 post-Office numbers. For the most part (especially in the fall), the numbers weren't that different from what it had done at 8:30 in 2009-10, but the show disappointed in its brief return to the post-Office slot for its last four episodes. It got as low as 3.17 million viewers and a 1.6 demo on 4/26/12 and hit 1.7's for nearly the entire second half of the season.
Then vs. now: If there was a hope that Parks would emerge as an heir apparent to The Office from a ratings standpoint, it's never really happened. But despite the lows in season four, Parks and Rec arguably felt as healthy as ever. Its numbers at 8:30 were very close to what it'd been pulling there two years prior, despite other NBC comedies like Community and The Office taking major tumbles. The season four performance resulted in the show getting one of just two full-season orders among NBC's returning comedies (and just the show's third ever). Though it's slated to go back post-Office in fall 2012, I have to wonder if that full season order (plus the shortened ones for so many other shows) might mean this is the year Parks finally gets a lead-off role. It's wild speculation on my part, but I have a feeling NBC may be setting up Parks for an 8/7c slot at midseason while they throw the Dwight Schrute Office spin-off at 9:30.
Adults 18-49 info by season:
|4||2011-12||Thu 8:30, Thu 9:30||1.6||1.84||2.1||detail|
|Premiere||Average||Finale||P -> F|
For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.