Your TV Ratings Explained: The Office Still Doing Big Business

By

Tuned In
Week two of American Idol performed strongly, allowing Fox to dominate the week and move to within spitting distance of CBS for the season-to-date Nielsen crown among viewers 18 to 49. But let's also give it up for The Office: The show that almost didn't make it past season one and is now in its seventh year last week was TV's No. 1 scripted series with viewers under 50. The Ricky Gervais cameo that was supposed to be a secret didn't hurt (nor did the fact that red-hot Glee and Modern Family were in repeats). But for all the naysayers ready to declare NBC's Thursday warrior over once Steve Carell exits later this season, the strong numbers suggest that The Office retains a big enough fan base to prosper even if some fans decide to quit the show once Michael moves on.

Tuned Out
Neither The Office nor NBC's other solid Thursday comedies were enough to boost the Peacock's overall performance: With Sunday-night football over, the Peacock averaged just 5.6 million viewers last week — a smaller number than the audience MTV draws for Jersey Shore or BET garners for The Game. NBC is more competitive with younger viewers: While still in fourth for the week, its 1.6 rating was not much behind ABC (1.7) or CBS (1.8.)

Behind the Numbers
Former ER producer John Wells has taken his act to cable in the past year, with Southland shifting to TNT and new drama Shameless bowing on Showtime last month. The latter series is definitely performing better: Sunday's episode drew 1.1 million viewers at 10 p.m. (up from the show's debut January 9), and after four airings, Shameless now ranks as Showtime's fastest-starting first-year drama ever. Expect new Showtime chief David Nevins to announce a second season pickup any week now. As for Southland, it's drawing a bigger audience, but because it's on the much bigger TNT, its performance is a lot less impressive. Last week's episode drew 2.2. million viewers, the best since season three began last month — but fewer than the nearly 2.5 million who watched the show's TNT bow last year. This is not the kind of momentum TNT was hoping for when it rescued the show from NBC.

A much more clear-cut hit is Syfy's Being Human, adapted from the British series of the same name. January 24's second episode actually grew from the January 17 debut, drawing more than 2.1 million viewers. It's rare for a cable drama to grow in week two, so that sort of bump all but guarantees you'll see Syfy announcing a second season of the show shortly.

Meanwhile, we recently told you that Betty White mania might be cooling a bit: Her TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland started its second season shakily. Week two saw even more viewers fleeing Cleveland, so we stand by our argument that the show is far less of a hit than it first seemed. But then came this Sunday's Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, The Lost Valentine, which delivered 14.6 million viewers — the franchise's biggest audience in four years. Sorry we doubted you, Betty! Next round of cheesecake's on us.