It’s all in the lead-in. The surest chance for success in prime time lies in following a show that’s doing well. TV series love to ride those coattails.
Thursday night’s premieres provided a dramatic reminder of that ratings truism, as Robin Williams’ new sitcom, The Crazy Ones, more than doubled the viewership of The Michael J. Fox Show. No one was expecting that kind of blow out.
Of course, The Crazy Ones had a distinct advantage: it followed TV’s top comedy, The Big Bang Theory which drew 18.9 million viewers. Of those, 15.6 million stuck around to see Robin.
The Michael J. Fox Show didn’t stand a chance. It followed the anemic hour-long season debut of Parks and Recreation (3.3 million). Ouch! Fox limped in as the lowest rated fall sitcom debut in NBC history, even though it more than doubled its predecessor, totaling 7.3 million viewers. That in turn dragged down Parenthood to its smallest audience ever (5.17 million)
Other returning series experienced steep drop offs, such as Elementary and Grey’s Anatomy. But no one saw the bottom fall out like Glee which lost more than 30% of its audience from last year, despite featuring the music of the Beatles. It was a hard day’s night in Lima.