Monday, June 23, 2014

The War of 18-49, Mike and Molly


Scheduling history: After three years on the tail end of CBS' two-hour Monday comedy block, Mike and Molly was held for midseason in season four. It was back on the schedule by November, anchoring an hour for the first time on Monday at 9/8c. It had a December debut in 2014 to replace The Millers. It was once again held off the fall schedule in 2015-16, returning for a winter Wednesday run and ending the series back on Monday at 8:30.

See (who saw) how it all began: The third cog in the modern Chuck Lorre empire on CBS, Mike and Molly launched back when Two and a Half Men was still the healthy Monday 9/8c anchor. Men kicked off its season on 9/20/10 with 14.625 million viewers and a 4.9 demo rating, then Mike and Molly declined to 12.227 million and a 3.9. M&M declined minimally in week two, to a 3.7 rating, bounced back to 3.9 in week three, then declined to a 3.5 in week four. It stayed in the mid- to upper-3's for most of season one.

The best of times: Because CBS previewed 2 Broke Girls, Mike and Molly didn't get the chance to air after Ashton Kutcher's debut on Two and a Half Men - the biggest regularly-scheduled episode of scripted television in A18-49+ since the finale of Friends. However, M&M kicked off season two in the 9:30 slot the next week, and it was able to benefit from all the other episodes that still carried some of that glow. Men still had a massive 7.4 rating on 9/26/11, and Mike and Molly followed with a 4.8 demo rating that still stands as the series high. Most fall 2011 episodes stayed at a 4.0+, helping season two of M&M grow by 11% year-to-year.

The worst of times: As CBS' incredible comedy framework has come back to earth in the last couple seasons, Mike and Molly has not proven a big enough draw to help stem the tide. It dropped over 20% in seasons three and four, with season three roughly returning to the season one A18-49+ level and then season four going well below it. It became a utility player starting in season five and actually held up quite well in season five, but it dropped some more in season six as much of the season was aired late in the spring. The series low was a 1.3 demo on 4/25/16 and 5/2/16

Then vs. now: Though Mike and Molly technically aired at the top of an hour in season four, it doesn't much feel like an "anchor." Its whole trajectory has been dictated by larger trends in CBS comedy: first the massive bounce provided by Kutcher on Two and a Half Men, then Men's declines later that season, then a couple seasons of 2 Broke Girls disappointment. Mike and Molly has just been along for the ride, doing pretty solid retention out of whatever it follows, and that's gotten it demoted into the replacement role that Rules of Engagement long occupied.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this show now is the burgeoning movie career of one of its leads. CBS clearly tried to capitalize on that in the Melissa McCarthy-centric marketing for season four, but it didn't really do any good. In the end, it may have been a negative for Mike and Molly; there were rumors that she wanted out of the show as soon as possible, and it ended after six seasons when it was still a pretty solid player. This could be a key part of why CBS didn't lean heavily on it scheduling-wise in later seasons.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12010-11Monday 9:303.362.34.0detail
42013-14Monday 9:002.17-24%1.72.7detail
52014-15Monday 8:301.95-10%1.62.2detailB+
62015-16Wed 8:30, Mon 8:00/8:301.55-21%1.31.7detailB-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

22011-12158big hit2.29+19%123203203144


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

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