CBS Channels To First Place In Thursday Night Prime Time


Thursday nights have always been a ratings frenzy for the networks. The term, “Must See TV” was developed by NBC and coined in the early nineties solely as a promotional tool advertising their Thursday night lineup – which back then – included hits such as “Cheers,” “Seinfeld,” “ER,” “Will & Grace,” “Mad About You,” “Frasier,” and “Friends.” Ah… the good ‘ol days long before reality TV brainwashing and Twitter wasn’t even a tweet yet. Now for years, NBC was basically the Nigerian of the TV marathon. They dominated Thursday night in prime time (the 8pm to 10pm block). However, in recent years, rivaling networks have been bumping GE’s golden child out of first place.

On Thursday, December 16 – a time where sitcom hiatus is in the air – CBS, the anomaly of the evening, decided to air two new episodes of back to back originals, “The Big Bang Theory” and “$#*! My Dad Says.” According to preliminary Fast National Nielsen data, which now includes live and same-day DVR viewing, “among adults 18-49, CBS averaged a 2.4 rating, far ahead of the 1.4 rating for both ABC and NBC. FOX was a close fourth in the key demographic, while The CW’s 0.7 rating trailed.” During the 8pm hour, “The Big Bang Theory” pulled in 13.51 million viewers and a 4.1 demo rating and “$#*! My Dad Says” grabbed a 10.47 million viewers and a 3.0 demo rating. This beat out ABC’s encore of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and FOX’s “Bones” repeat. There’s a shock! Charlie Brown has had the same Christmas since 1965. I’m all for classics, but how about a new plot rolling out from the Peanuts once every 45 years?

CBS went on to claim first place in the 9pm time slot with a rerun of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” and then again in the 10pm time slot with a rerun of “The Mentalist.” According to CNS News, “the only times CBS has failed to win on Thursday this season were on Oct. 28 when Fox aired Game 2 of baseball’s World Series and Thanksgiving night, Nov. 25, when Fox showed a runover of an afternoon NFL game and the broadcast television premiere of “The Simpsons Movie.”

If you’re like me, these numbers are great news. It’s hard proof that Americans still love the tradition of gathering around their televisions to watch creatively scripted situation comedies. This reality show business will someday dissipate and frankly, I can’t wait. The most reality I want to see on TV is an unscripted talk show. In fact, I’m surprised reality TV took off the way that it did. Isn’t that why we flip on the TV to begin with? To escape reality. Why the hell would I want to tune in to watch somebody’s real boring life? It’s basically eavesdropping… and hell, I can tune in to anybody’s pathetic issues and pretend to be entertained at any coffee shop in America. And I have… I just chose to “change the channel.”

(Image from CBS)

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