Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The War of 18-49, Last Comic Standing

A Solid Summer Player in the Mid-Aughts

NBC's Last Comic Standing opened with a solid 9.7 million viewers and 4.5 demo rating on 6/10/03. Though it took a steep week two drop to 3.5, it was back up to 3.6 and hung right around that point for the rest of season one. At the time, the network had several other summer reality players with similar ratings like Meet My Folks and Dog Eat Dog, and the even stronger For Love or Money. But the show became much more valuable as most of those went by the wayside or declined rapidly in 2004, while Last Comic Standing grew 7% to a 3.94 average. Season two still goes down as the show's biggest historical-adjusted season.

After the very successful second season, NBC rushed season three of Last Comic Standing (combining comics from the first two seasons) back on the air for the late summer and early fall of 2004, premiering just three weeks after season two ended. This was pretty much a disaster; though it premiered at a decent 3.8 with a Fear Factor lead-in, it was in the high-2's and later mid-2's when it moved to its normal Tuesday timeslot and the regular season competition arrived. It was another weak player in NBC's long-troubled Tuesday 8:00 hour, and it was actually pulled from the schedule before the finale (later broadcast on Comedy Central).

Resurrections and Declines

After the season three debacle, Last Comic Standing was not seen again until summer 2006. The show managed to recover fairly nicely, hanging around 4.0 for the first few weeks before dropping into the low-3's. This added up to an 84 Plus, about on par with season one. But in the next couple years, Last Comic quickly headed downhill again. It was down 20% and 29% (or double digits in Plus) in 2007 and 2008. So it took another hiatus, sitting out the summer of 2009, before returning for one more run in 2010. The 2010 season was actually up a bit in Plus, but the ratings were still pretty mediocre. Once again, it was off the sked in 2011, and this one seemed more permanent as it didn't show up again the next two years either.

Yet Another Resurrection in 2014

But NBC still couldn't completely rid itself of this show, and it got yet another try in 2014. It joined Hollywood Game Night and leftover comedy Undateable to create a surprisingly respectable Thursday lineup (and NBC hasn't had many of those lately). The 1.7 premiere on 5/22/14 was particularly solid, though it trickled down to very low 1's by the end of June. Season eight was still way behind the show's historical-adjusted heyday, but it did have a slightly higher Plus than the 2008 and 2010 seasons. In a world where the demand for original summer programming is on the rise, this made it a pretty comfortable renewal (at least by Last Comic Standing standards).

Last Comic Standing got something of a timeslot upgrade in 2015 and was able to post raw numbers growth. There's no renewal yet, but there should absolutely be one.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Summer 2003Tuesday 9:003.672.64.5

2Summer 20043.94+7%2.94.8

3Fall 2004Tuesday 8:002.79-29%2.43.8

4Summer 2006Tuesday 9:003.39+22%2.84.0

5Summer 2007Wednesday 9:002.72-20%2.43.0

6Summer 2008Thursday 8:001.93-29%1.62.4

7Summer 2010Monday 9:001.751.52.2

8Summer 2014Thursday 10:
9Summer 2015Wednesday 9:001.30+3%1.11.5detailB+

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Summer 2003 83 solid(sum)1.40 59 102 102 84
2Summer 2004 97 hit(sum)1.63 +17% 72 118 99 109
3Fall 2004 68 flop1.15 -30% 59 93 93 59
4Summer 2006 84 solid(sum)1.40 +22% 69 99 91 69
5Summer 2007 72 solid(sum)1.21 -14% 64 80 77 77
6Summer 2008 58 marginal(sum)0.98 -19% 48 72 72 48
7Summer 2010 62 marginal(sum)1.05 53 78 71 53
8Summer 2014 67 marginal(sum)1.12 53 90 90 74
9Summer 2015 77 solid(sum)1.30 +16% 65 89 89 65

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

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