Monday, July 22, 2019

The Breakdown: CBS Thursday in 2018-19 (The Big Bang Theory, Mom, S.W.A.T. and more!)

It's time for a journey through the CBS Thursday schedule in 2018-19...


2017-18The Big Bang TheoryYoung SheldonMomLife in PiecesS.W.A.T.144
2018-19The Big Bang TheoryYoung SheldonMomMurphy BrownS.W.A.T.131 (-9%)
234 (-4%)180 (-8%)130 (-2%)88 (-16%)77 (-17%)
207 (-6%)109 (-8%)

CBS kicked off a year full of modest declines for the Thursday comedy block, including from megahit anchor The Big Bang Theory in its announced final season. What made the fall a little worse than the other two periods was the disappointing showing from the Murphy Brown revival at 9:30, plus S.W.A.T.'s inability to stay close to its early season one numbers.


2017-18The Big Bang TheoryYoung SheldonMomLife in PiecesS.W.A.T.152
2018-19The Big Bang TheoryYoung SheldonMomFamS.W.A.T.141 (-7%)
245 (-6%)188 (-12%)133 (-7%)97 (-12%)92 (+1%)
216 (-9%)115 (-9%)

In the winter, the story flipped; the declines in the first 90 minutes got a little worse with some slightly underwhelming winter bounces. But at 9:30, Fam was a little stronger at least in Live+SD than Murphy (still down double digits from the year-ago Life in Pieces), and S.W.A.T. sort of magically caught a second wind and started breaking even in Plus at 10/9c.


2017-18The Big Bang TheoryYoung SheldonMomLife in PiecesS.W.A.T.129
2018-19The Big Bang TheoryYoung SheldonMomLife in PiecesS.W.A.T.124 (-4%)
241 (+8%)154 (-13%)110 (-13%)83 (-10%)78 (+2%)
198 (-1%)97 (-12%)

TBBT had much better trends in the spring, mostly because of the series finale itself (a 3.2 or 340 Plus) and not because there was a big build up to it. Young Sheldon and Mom took more standard spring drops, S.W.A.T. remained quite consistent year-to-year, and a third comedy occupied the 9:30 slot: Life in Pieces, the veteran that had been there all of the previous two seasons.

Rating the Ratings

The Big Bang Theory*
Young Sheldon1.41.712.1-23%180big hit-11%detail
Murphy Brown0.70.841.188marginaldetail
Life in Pieces*0.50.681.0-38%72marginal-29%detail

The Big Bang Theory: It was a surprisingly buzz-free final season for the eight-time megahit, hitting a seven-year low in Plus even with the boost provided by a double-length series finale. Can only be so harsh with a show of this size, but I think it was reasonable to expect better out of a final season. Grade: C+.

Young Sheldon: Sheldon took a clear step down from its huge first season, and it wasn't really due to an inflated early season one; it was down about the same in every section of the season, and down more than its surrounding programs. It was still really big, of course, but TBBT set a high standard for stability. Let's see what happens next year. Grade: C+.

Mom: A small decline for the 9/8c stalwart; I was close to going with another C+ here because its declines got worse later in the season. But I give it a slight bump because it trended better than Sheldon before it and the rotating cast of 9:30 players after it. Grade: B-.

Murphy Brown: Looking at the DVR numbers, I would argue it was as strong or stronger than the other low-end CBS comedy, Happy Together on Monday. But considering the revival factor, it goes down as a bigger disappointment. Grade: D.

Fam: A more plausible reach renewal than Happy Together or Murphy Brown, but it was still a mediocre performance with not much DVR interest, so it doesn't really have a beef either. Grade: C-.

Life in Pieces: Shifted to the spring/summer after airing completely in-season, the only really fair comparison here is the spring vs. spring ones, which suggest a 10%ish decline. It may have been the strongest thing CBS aired at 9:30 all year, but all the other ones got cancelled too! Grade: C.

S.W.A.T.: I don't think it was crazy at all to envision S.W.A.T. getting cancelled during the fall part of the season, and it may have needed every bit of the turnaround that it pulled off after the new year. Maybe the DVR-light Fam audience was a better lead-in than the DVR-heavy Murphy audience? Either way, it ended up being arguably the network's best story stability-wise on this night. Grade: B-.

The names in this last table link to the shows' War of 18-49 pages. Links with an asterisk(*) have been updated with the new info. Updates to younger shows will come later in the summer.

Here's the now updated Schedules Plus for CBS Thursday.

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