Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The War of 18-49, 2 Broke Girls

A Historically Huge Comedy Newbie

It's hard for a new comedy to ask for a better lead-in than the one 2 Broke Girls got. On the opening Monday of the 2011-12 season, CBS posted an absolutely ridiculous 10.7 demo rating for the debut of Ashton Kutcher on Two and a Half Men, and they wisely used that audience to funnel into the newbie 2 Broke Girls at 9:30, which held onto 19.37 million viewers and a 7.1 rating.

It may not have held in the sevens, but what was left for the move to 8:30 was enough to make 2BG a bonafide sensation. The show built on its 8/7c lead-in from a stronger-than-ever How I Met Your Mother almost every week, which was good for consistent mid-4's in the fall, drifting down into the mid-3's as the block came back to earth late in the season. The 180 A18-49+ for the season made 2 Broke Girls the biggest new comedy since the inflated Friends lead-outs in the early aughts. Nothing else in the last decade has come close.

Quickly Asked to Anchor

At the start of season two, CBS moved 2 Broke Girls to the vaunted Monday 9/8c timeslot that had belonged to only two shows (Everybody Loves Raymond and Two and a Half Men) over the previous 14 seasons. 2BG didn't get anything like the sophomore bounce CBS was probably hoping for, but it had a pretty good run of mostly upper 3's after CBS finally pulled its very weak 8:30 lead-in Partners.

But the show tailed off to an alarming degree in the spring, dropping to 3.0 or lower for the last six episodes of the season. It got even worse early in season three, which only began at a 2.8 and then quickly dove into the low-2's when 2BG got a very weak lead-in from newbie We Are Men. CBS took a surprisingly drastic measure in resolving its Monday crisis; they actually moved 2 Broke Girls back to 8:30, giving it the direct How I Met Your Mother lead-in while Mike and Molly took over at 9/8c.

Return to the 8:00 Hour

Being back at 8:30 helped juice 2 Broke Girls' raw numbers somewhat. It settled at a 2.7 for most of the late fall/winter and even went as high as 3.0 on a couple occasions. But the show's season one dynamic was long gone. Instead of building from Mother, it was down by at least 10%. And it got even worse in the last few weeks of HIMYM's run, when 2 Broke Girls dropped all the way to 2.2 and 2.3 (with Mother at 2.9/3.5).

After How I Met Your Mother ended, 2 Broke Girls took the 8/7c timeslot for its last four episodes of season three. The last post-HIMYM performances had lowered expectations, but 2BG exceeded them by delivering that same low-2's audience at 8/7c. It stayed in that area for most of season four as well, allowing the show to pull off the smallest drop in series history even in a more difficult situation.

It's clear now that 2 Broke Girls is not the show CBS thought it was when it made it the Monday 9/8c anchor, and that reality has played at least some part in why CBS is shying away from comedies lately. But season four seemed like the first time that this show really found a consistent level, and it was still a very respectable one. Apparently it wasn't enough to overcome CBS' scheduling need for the new drama Supergirl, which is taking over the Monday 8/7c hour in the late fall. 2 Broke Girls may have outrated all but the top four CBS dramas, but the network couldn't find a fall slot for it. Just two years after it was the network's Monday centerpiece, 2 Broke Girls was left to twist in the midseason wind.

Utility Player Seasons

2BG held up pretty well as a utility player in season five, with a couple stints in the Thursday 9:30 slot sandwiching a Wednesday lead-off run between seasons of Survivor. It declined once again relative to the league average, but this was one of its more forgivable seasons considering all the movement. Though it looked like it might be transitioning into a Rules of Engagement-esque utility player role, CBS suddenly went comedy crazy at the 2016 upfront, so 2 Broke made its return to that Monday 9:00 slot where things initially went wrong.

In what was a largely mediocre Monday comedy lineup, 2 Broke Girls ended up doing at least as well as some of the other players. However, it was still shuffled from 9:00 to 9:30 at midseason to give a better timeslot to newbie Superior Donuts. It ended its run with an unceremonious trio of 1.0's at 9:30, and its cancellation was not announced until a month after the finale.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12011-12Monday 8:304.253.37.1detail
22012-13Monday 9:003.37-21%2.44.1detail
32013-14Monday 8:302.53-25%2.03.0detail
42014-15Monday 8:002.02-20%1.62.4detail
52015-16Thu 9:30, Wed 8:001.61-20%1.41.7detailB-
62016-17Mon 9:00, Mon 9:301.31-19%1.01.7detailB-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

12011-12180big hit2.20140301301140
22012-13160big hit1.96-11%114195176142


The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.

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