Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Breakdown: CBS Thursday in 2019-20 (Young Sheldon, The Unicorn, Mom and more!)

It's time for a journey through the CBS Thursday schedule in 2019-20...

NOTE: In addition to classic A18-49+, Breakdown posts in 2019-20 also use CVPlus, comparing spring ratings against a higher league average due to viewership inflation from COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. See here for more.


2018-19The Big Bang TheoryYoung SheldonMomMurphy BrownS.W.A.T.131
2019-20Young SheldonThe UnicornMomCarol's Second ActEvil94 (-28%)
136 (-42%)97 (-46%)105 (-19%)85 (-3%)71 (-8%)
117 (-44%)95 (-13%)

CBS kicked off life after The Big Bang Theory by posting roughly half of last year's ratings in the 8/7c hour all season long. Young Sheldon took 40%+ declines from TBBT while newbie lead-out The Unicorn had slightly worse retention than what Sheldon did out of TBBT. CBS kept the fall declines down in part because newbie Carol's Second Act was competitive with the year-ago Murphy Brown failure, and drama newbie Evil was not far from a very poor fall portion from S.W.A.T.


2018-19The Big Bang TheoryYoung SheldonMomFamS.W.A.T.141
2019-20Young SheldonThe UnicornMomCarol's Second ActTommy83 (-41%)
128 (-48%)85 (-55%)95 (-29%)74 (-24%)59 (-36%)
107 (-51%)84 (-27%)

This was yet another comedy night that didn't really get anything resembling a winter bounce, and combined with the comparisons in the second half of the night falling apart, the year-to-year trends got a good bit worse. Carol's Second Act increasingly paled in comparison to a stronger (but still cancelled) year-ago newbie in Fam, and drama newbie Tommy got thrown up against the strong part of S.W.A.T.'s season.


2018-19The Big Bang TheoryYoung SheldonMomLife in PiecesS.W.A.T.124
2019-20Young SheldonMan with a PlanMomBrokeTommy80 (-35%)
122 (-49%)80 (-48%)96 (-13%)72 (-13%)56 (-29%)
101 (-49%)84 (-13%)

Man with a Plan showed up at 8:30 and had marginally better retention than The Unicorn, but did not really move the needle for the hour as a whole. The last two hours combined to make the spring a teeny bit better than the winter; newbie Broke was not any worse than Carol at 9:30, and Tommy continued to struggle but at least held up well post-premiere.

Rating the Ratings

Young Sheldon0.91.051.3-39%128hit-29%detail
The Unicorn0.60.710.887marginaldetail
Man with a Plan0.60.700.9-18%86marginal-5%detail
Carol's Second Act0.50.630.777marginaldetail

Young Sheldon: It was always going to be tough without The Big Bang Theory, and it held onto the hit label, but I don't think you can really argue that it overachieved. I don't think it's a huge surprise in either direction. (For what it's worth, my True Plus metric says this drop was about equivalent to the S1 -> S2 drop.) Grade: C.

The Unicorn: Reminds me a little bit of Life in Pieces season one, which looked like a very poor performer compared to its lead-in but didn't do quite as poorly in the DVR numbers as you might think. It will follow the Life in Pieces model by shipping off to Thursday at 9:30; CBS would definitely be happy if it can hold up as well in that move as LiP did. But none of that makes it any more than a borderline renewal. Grade: C.

Man with a Plan: This one is a great source of frustration for my Renewology model, which railed on it for years while it kept getting renewed, and then finally embraced it more fully the year it got cancelled. Despite the outcome, I would still maintain that on a network whose comedy department took such a huge hit, this is one of the show's more better-looking seasons historically, though admittedly it may have benefited from airing most of the season post-pandemic. Grade: B-.

Mom: My first instinct was to say that Mom had no excuse for dropping nearly as much as Sheldon. But it turns out that having your lead-in go from Sheldon to Unicorn is probably just about as bad as going from TBBT to local programming. Again, I think it could've done more to stem the tide of this epic nightly collapse, but the decline is not really that huge of a shock. Grade: C.

Carol's Second Act: You might expect this show to be stronger than The Unicorn, given 9:30 and the smaller lead-in, but the actual DVR numbers basically showed the same growth for both shows. So it may well have been the weakest of the three fall comedy newbies, but still not a massive bomb. Grade: C-.

Broke: Took over the slot from Carol, and it felt like a pretty seamless transition in the Live+SD numbers. But Broke was particularly low in delayed viewing, so I will kick it down a notch. Grade: D+.

Evil: Really had only about one week when it looked solid from a Live+SD standpoint (the uptick to 0.66 in week four, which is when it happened to get renewed). But it did good enough DVR business to separate it a bit from the rest of the low-end CBS dramas, like the one that succeeded it in its timeslot. Grade: C.

Tommy: This is the CBS version of The Baker and the Beauty, holding up well enough post-premiere to avoid getting really embarrassing, but considerably under-indexing in DVR gains. I will hand it the same grade as Baker. Grade: D+.

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.

Previous Breakdowns for CBS Thursday: 2015-16 | 2016-17 | 2017-18 | 2018-19

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

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