Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Breakdown: CBS Thursday in 2020-21 (Young Sheldon, B Positive, Mom, The Unicorn and more!)

It's time for a journey through the CBS Thursday schedule in 2020-21...

NOTE: In addition to classic A18-49+, Breakdown posts with 2019-20 ratings 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. Also see here for information on the 2020-21 league average.


2019-20Young SheldonThe UnicornMomCarol's Second ActEvil94
2020-21Young SheldonB PositiveMomThe UnicornStar Trek: Discovery73 (-23%)
117 (-14%)88 (-9%)93 (-11%)69 (-19%)35 (-51%)
102 (-12%)81 (-14%)


CBS filled the 10/9c hour in fall and early winter with season one of Star Trek: Discovery from CBS All Access (originally aired in 2017) and got nothing to show for it. The original comedies returned in early November with newbie B Positive at 8:30 and sophomore The Unicorn moving to 9:30, where it dropped pretty hard.


2019-20Young SheldonThe UnicornMomCarol's Second ActTommy83
2020-21Young SheldonB PositiveMomThe UnicornClarice90 (+8%)
132 (+3%)102 (+21%)99 (+4%)72 (-2%)68 (+15%)
117 (+10%)85 (+2%)


Much like on Monday, the CBS Thursday comedies got a nice bounce in the winter for some reason this year, leading to a lot of green numbers in this portion (because they got no such bounce last year). This segment really established B Positive as a stronger show than The Unicorn from a year ago, while Unicorn itself continued to lag at 9:30. This segment also contains the first month of drama newbie Clarice, which had a somewhat promising start and was still looking viable by episode five.


2019-20Young SheldonMan with a PlanMomBrokeTommy81
2020-21Young SheldonUnited States of AlMomB PositiveClarice73 (-10%)
108 (-13%)84 (+4%)92 (-5%)73 (+0%)40 (-28%)
96 (-6%)83 (-3%)


The bounces quickly fizzled in the spring, while B Positive moved to 9:30 and made way for another 8:30 newbie in United States of Al. Meanwhile, Clarice absolutely fell apart, dropping to low 0.3's for most of its spring episodes (and a bunch of 0.2's in the early summer); after its early episodes outrated Tommy in the winter, it went massively behind it in the spring comparisons.

Rating the Ratings

Young Sheldon0.60.761.0-27%118solid-7%detail
B Positive0.40.560.7
United States of Al0.40.500.6
The Unicorn0.40.450.6-37%70marginal-20%detail

Young Sheldon: The winter bounce makes this a weird one to grade, as it was clearly in the C- range in the fall/spring but B or even B+ for the winter. It's a borderline C+/C overall, but C+ seems just a bit too generous when two periods had declines well into the teens. Grade: C.

B Positive: In the 8:30 comparisons, it looked better than The Unicorn pretty consistently, and it even improved a teeny bit on The Unicorn's fall/winter numbers when it moved to 9:30. Beating The Unicorn is not exactly high praise, but it makes this one look like a justifiable renewal whereas The Unicorn's was shaky at best. Maybe next year I'll be able to give it a B+ grade just for the memes, but for now let's stick with Grade: C Positive.

United States of Al: This show picked up right where B Positive left off, with better y2y trends than the anchors around it. It also consistently grew from the Young Sheldon repeats it had to follow in the early summer, which I don't think has been typical of these shows historically? In other words, these newbies were nothing special but I don't really have a problem with both getting renewed. But will the fall 2021 newbie Ghosts be able to hold a night together alongside these two? Grade: C+.

Mom: The trends were a little better than Sheldon in each period, putting it on the border between B- and C+. I will opt for the harsher grade because it was a final season, though that really only boosted the finale (and thus maybe made the spring number look a touch better). Grade: C+.

The Unicorn: -20% in a move from the 8:30 hammock to 9:30 is not particularly catastrophic, but pretty much all the comparisons suggest it was weaker than both of this year's newbies and definitely cancel-worthy. Grade: D+.

Clarice: I wanted to give this a big F because it started so much stronger than Tommy (a full tenth higher in raw numbers!) but then dropped well over half of that audience and ended up being much weaker. But what we saw of the DVR numbers were actually quite large percentage-wise (and Tommy's DVR gains were decidedly not), so I don't think I can go that far. Still a very disappointing post-premiere drop, but I guess that's an explanation for why CBS would think about saving this Live+SD bomb for Paramount+. 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 | 2019-20

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

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