Friday, July 12, 2019

The War of 18-49, Life in Pieces

A Disappointing Big Bang Lead-out

Two years before Young Sheldon came along, CBS took another crack at using its huge The Big Bang Theory lead-in to jump-start a single-camera family comedy, the kind of show that would be at home on the ABC schedule. Life in Pieces opened alongside Big Bang on Monday (thanks to Thursday Night Football) with 11.28 million viewers and a 2.6 demo on 9/21/15, holding just 55% of its huge 4.7 lead-in from Big Bang. It took a major week two drop to a 1.9, putting it at just half of TBBT (3.8), and then its retention dipped below 50% in the coming weeks.

While this kind of performance could've put it in real trouble, Life in Pieces survived to the Thursday move alongside TBBT, and... well, at least things didn't really get any worse from there. It kept plugging away with mostly upper-1's after mostly high-3's lead-ins, then picked up a little steam with a run of low-2's in early 2016. It was enough to score a renewal, but a downgrade to the 9:30 timeslot for season two.

A Decent Mom Lead-out

Though it had never really looked good at 8:30, it had done a little better as a DVR gainer than you might expect from a pure flop. And that foreshadowed a decent transition to the 9:30 slot, where Life in Pieces turned in a couple seasons of just above league-average ratings. Its value became clear in season two, as its 102 average came after a Mom lead-in that averaged just a 117, and CBS flopped even harder at 8:30 with newbie The Great Indoors. Life in Pieces had the same Plus but was not quite as impressive in season three, as its Mom lead-in got a boost from season one of Young Sheldon and turned in a 133.

The Delayed Final Season

Life in Pieces got a fourth-season renewal, but it was for just 13 episodes, and it ended up becoming a scheduling afterthought. It returned to its familiar 9:30 timeslot after Mom, but it was just a month before the end of the regular season, after two other comedies had that timeslot. When it had the Mom lead-in, it mostly turned in 0.8's (while Mom had 1.0 or 1.1), and you could at least make the case it was as strong or stronger than the previous occupants (Murphy Brown and Fam). But in the end, getting held till that late on the calendar made clear what CBS' intentions were, and all three of the 9:30 occupants got the axe. The last half of the final season played out in anti-climactic fashion, a mix of 0.5's and 0.6's over the early part of summer 2019.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12015-16Mon 8:30, Thu 8:302.021.62.6detail
22016-17Thursday 9:301.25-38%1.01.5detailB-
4Spring 20190.68-38%0.51.0detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

4Spring 201972marginal0.68-29%5210910952


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

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