BOB'S BURGERS (FOX)
Scheduling history: Aside from a few odd 9:30 episodes, the first three and a half seasons of Bob's Burgers aired on Sunday at 8:30 after The Simpsons. A shake-up to the animated lineup bumped Bob's Burgers to 7:00 in spring 2014, and it's returning to the earliest hour (at 7:30) in fall 2015.
See (who saw) how it all began: In the last few years, Fox's best animated ratings have regularly come on the night after Fox has a late-afternoon NFL playoff game. That made it a great place to launch something new, and Bob's Burgers responded with 9.38 million viewers and a 4.5 demo on 1/9/11 (down from The Simpsons' 12.55 million and 5.7). It was the biggest scripted series premiere of the 2010-11 season. No NFL help brought Bob's back to reality; it dropped 44% to a 2.5 demo the next week, then to a 2.2 in week three. It held in the low 2's for the rest of the season, a bit behind its usually mid-2's Simpsons lead-in.
The best of times: Bob's Burgers has never again gotten remotely close to the 4.5 on premiere night. After being held for midseason again in 2011-12, Bob's Burgers got its first whack at the fall in 2012-13 and thus grew a bit in that season. After several low 2's ratings through the fall, it got up to a 3.1 with NFL playoff help (on 1/6/13, two years after the series premiere). It then got as high as a 2.9 in the 2013-14 season, once again in the same week.
The worst of times: Bob's Burgers was actually down less than the league average as of the end of January 2014, possibly headed for its biggest season yet in Plus, when the scheduling of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey intervened. Both Burgers and American Dad! got shoved to the 7:00 hour, and Fox opted to give the better 7:30 slot to the show that was about to leave the network. At 7:00, Bob's opened at a series low 0.9, briefly improved into the low 1's, then dropped again in April. It got as low as a measly 0.6 rating for an Easter Sunday 7:00 airing on 4/20/14, and has not sniffed at that number in recent seasons.
Then vs. now: Part of the initial appeal of Bob's Burgers was that it came from an alternative voice in a Fox animation world increasingly overrun with Seth MacFarlane shows. That may be a big part of why it's now outlived second-tier MacFarlane cartoons The Cleveland Show and American Dad! (at least on Fox). However, Fox seems to have pretty much given up on making this show anything better than a second-tier performer. It was eyebrow-raising when Bob's got the worse slot in the 7:00 hour and outgoing American Dad! went to 7:30, and the preferential treatment for Dad! has continued during summer rerun season. It all led to a fall schedule in which Bob's Burgers will be back in the lowest-viewed hour, only airing when there's no direct NFL lead-in. But Fox needed it as a stopgap after the Mulaney debacle, and then again after the failure of Cooper Barrett's Guide in early 2016. It's going to get the same initial 7:30 scheduling again in 2016-17, but it'll always be there if needed.
Adults 18-49 info by season:
|2||Spring 2012||Sunday 8:30||1.87||-20%||1.7||2.1||detail|
|4||2013-14||Sun 8:30, Sun 7:00||1.47||-24%||0.6||2.9||detail|
|5||2014-15||Sun 7:30, Sun 9:30||1.23||-16%||0.9||2.0||detail|
|6||2015-16||Sun 7:30, Sun 8:30||1.04||-16%||0.9||1.4||detail||B-|
Historical-adjusted ratings by season:
For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.