Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The War of 18-49, Cougar Town


Scheduling history: Cougar Town aired its first two seasons after fellow new sitcom Modern Family. In season three it was held for midseason and ended up in a Tuesday block paired with Last Man Standing. ABC then cancelled the show, but it found a second life on TBS, where it aired on Tuesday at 10:00 and was moved to 10:30 for the final season.

See (who saw) how it all began: Cougar Town began its run as the last of four new comedies in ABC's fall 2009 Wednesday lineup. During premiere week, only Modern Family and Cougar Town aired, with a special Dancing with the Stars leading in. And while Modern grew big out of Dancing (to a 4.2 demo), Cougar Town actually grew again, pulling a whooping 4.4 at 9:30.

The best of times: That was the first and last time the show would ever grow out of Modern Family, though they tied in week two at 3.8. From there, Cougar would settle in the low 3's while Modern was typically a few tenths higher. By season's end, the gap had grown to more than a point; Modern sometimes hit low 4's, but Cougar Town only got upper 2's.

The worst of times: The gap between the two only widened from there, as Cougar dropped 12% in season two while Modern Family was growing by 18%. So ABC held the show for midseason in 2011-12, eventually bringing it back in January 2012 after the very incompatible newbie Last Man Standing. Cougar Town shed nearly half its audience in the move, getting as low as a 1.0 for a one-hour episode on 5/15/12. It actually dropped more in the season three move to Tuesday than in its season four move to cabler TBS, where it was pretty steadily just south of 1.0. But seasons five and six brought continued substantial declines, including five mere 0.4 ratings during the 2014-15 season. The season five drops led to season six being announced as the final one.

Then vs. now: In some ways, Cougar Town looks the cable version of Southland: acclaimed show, broadcast-to-cable transition, passable ratings, multiple seasons in the cable phase of its life. It's a model that many a cancelled show's fanbase would love for their show, but it's not that easy to pull off. In Cougar Town's case, lasting long enough on broadcast to get close to syndication levels probably helped. However, Cougar Town's ratings on TBS were not quite as steady Southland's on TNT. Its second year on TBS brought another big downturn, so the TBS portion of its life ended after three seasons.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12009-10Wednesday 9:302.931.94.4detail
32011-12Tuesday 8:301.41-45%1.01.8detail
42012-13TBS, Tuesday 10:000.94-33%0.81.1detail
62014-15Tuesday 10:300.47-31%0.40.6detailC-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12009-10 104 solid1.76 68 157 157 100
22010-11 102 solid1.71 -3% 79 134 134 79
32011-12 60 flop1.01 -41% 42 76 76 51
42012-13 45 36 54 50 39
52013-14 36 29 46 46 40
62014-15 28 23 36 28 32

For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.


Spot said...

One of the more interesting show histories. I never liked the show, myself, but I am glad that it could find a stable home.

Spot said...

So glad TBS saved this show!

Spot said...

It will be interesting to see whether TBS renew it after the next 13, which will put the show above the magic 88 episode syndication mark.

I'm not so sure. Its ratings are okay but I imagine the show is expensive for a cable sitcom.

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