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Stunning tumble
for NBC's 'The Office'

Loses half its audience moving from Thursday

  NBC obviously has a strategy for “The Office.” Just what that strategy is may be impossible to figure out.
   Yesterday the well-reviewed new comedy made its 9:30 p.m. Tuesday debut, five days after premiering to a decent 5.0 18-49 rating last Thursday. Tuesdays have been very unkind to NBC comedies this year, and it’s a mystery why NBC would put a show that seemed to have smarts, prestige and reasonable buzz in such a slot. 
   According to Nielsen overnights, the show floundered in its new timeslot. Badly.
   Last night’s episode managed just a 2.7 rating among 18-49s, slipping 10 percent from already weak lead-in “Scrubs,” which posted just a 3.0. “Office” also slipped 10 percent versus the 3.0 “Committed” had averaged in that exact timeslot, and was down 46 percent versus last week’s premiere episode. It averaged a mere 5.9 million total viewers.
   Of course the show went head-to-head against Fox’s suddenly hot medical drama “House,” which averaged a 7.2 18-49 rating, thanks largely to its “American Idol” lead-in. “Idol” was the night’s highest-rated show in the demo with an 11.0 average rating.
   Perhaps the bigger question isn’t so much why NBC sentenced “The Office” to that horrible Tuesday timeslot but why it commissioned the show at all. Though it’s certainly the best comedy NBC has introduced all year, such high-concept sitcoms do not do well on broadcast; “Scrubs” and Fox’s “Arrested Development” have proven that.
   NBC would have been better off searching for another broad-appeal show like “Friends” or “Frasier” to patch up Tuesday nights.
   Now that “The Office” is here, though, the network may want to consider a switch to Thursday night. The show mustered some promise there, and if it traded nights with “Will & Grace,” the latter’s audience would surely follow.
   Fox finished first Tuesday night with a 9.1 average rating and 23 share in 18-49s. CBS was second at 4.8/12, NBC third at 3.2/8, ABC fourth at 2.9/7, the WB fifth at 1.0/3 and UPN sixth at 0.9/2.
   At 8 p.m. Fox led easily with “Idol’s” 11.0 average among 18-49s. CBS was second that hour with a 3.4 average for “NCIS” and ABC third with a 2.5 average for comedies “My Wife & Kids” (2.4) and “George Lopez” (2.6).
   Fox led again at 9 p.m. with its 7.2 average for “House,” followed by a 5.2 average for CBS for “The Amazing Race.” ABC was third with a 3.6 average for “According to Jim” (3.8) and “Rodney” (3.3), while NBC was fourth with a 2.8 average for its combination of “Scrubs” (3.0) and “The Office” (2.7).
   CBS led during the 10 p.m. hour with a second hour of “Amazing Race” averaging a 5.7 rating. NBC moved into second place with a 5.2 average for “Law & Order: SVU” and ABC was third with a series-low 2.6 average for “Blind Justice.”
   Fox was first for the night among households, finishing with a 13.3 average rating and 20 share. CBS was second at 8.2/13, NBC third at 5.8/9, ABC fourth at 5.2/8, and UPN and the WB tied for fifth at 1.7/3.


March 30, 2005 © 2005 Media Life


 


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