Ratings Are In for NBC’s Thursday Comedy Experiment

by | January 21, 2011 at 3:06 PM | TV News

'30 Rock' (Photo: NBC)

'30 Rock' (Photo: NBC)

NBC’s attempt to mount a three-hour block of prime-time comedies came out pretty much as expected Thursday night, with each show performing at or around their usual viewership levels.

The experiment faces long odds of succeeding. Throughout television history, broadcast networks have rarely tried airing comedies in the third hour of prime-time (10-11 p.m./9-11c). Conventional wisdom holds that viewers have been accustomed for so many years to watching one-hour dramas in that hour that it’s not a place where you can suddenly start programming comedies, particularly the fifth and sixth comedies airing in a single night. It’s probably one reason why “The Jay Leno Show” didn’t work in the time period (among other problems with the show).

This time around, NBC placed “30 Rock” at 10/9c and “Outsourced” at 10:30/9:30c – the hour occupied earlier this season by “The Apprentice.” The Tina Fey/Alec Baldwin comedy attracted 5.281 million viewers, with “Outsourced” drawing 3.953 million, according to Nielsen overnights.

Elsewhere on NBC’s all-comedy night, the network introduced the new sitcom “Perfect Couples” at 8:30/7:30c and brought back the Amy Poehler comedy “Parks & Recreation” at 9:30/8:30 c. About 4.16 million viewers stuck around after “Community” (4.74 million) to sample “Perfect Couples,” with “Parks and Rec” bringing in 6.189 million an hour later. As usual, NBC’s highest-rated comedy of the night was “The Office“at 9/8c with 8.285 million.

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“Community” and “Perfect Couples” lagged behind their competition in NBC’s target demo, 18-49s. That might have been due to the one-hour “American Idol” at 8-9 p.m./7-8c siphoning off the lion’s share of 18-49s for the time period. In total viewers, “Idol” drew 22.629 million. NBC’s best 18-49 performer was “The Office,” which won its time period in the demo.

The highest-rated show in prime-time Thursday – after “Idol,” of course – was “The Mentalist,” scoring 14.556 million at 10/9c on CBS.

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