So this is what happens to NBC’s Thursday-night lineup when The Office takes a week off: Last night, the once-mighty Peacock failed to rise above 4 million viewers, or a 1.9 rating with viewers under 50, in any half-hour. And this was with ABC taking the night off and airing repeats throughout prime time. Part of the problem, of course, is the return of American Idol: The show stopped its Nielsen bleeding and averaged a 5.4 in the demo Thursday, winning the hour. CBS is also super-strong in the 8 p.m. half-hour: Without Community to siphon off 18- to 34-year-old viewers, Big Bang Theory surged again and won the 8 to 8:30 p.m. half-hour. This left NBC pretty much out in the cold.
The carnage for the Peacock began at 8 p.m., with the first of two episodes of 30 Rock averaging a 1.6 rating, tying last week’s season low and scoring a tad lower than several episodes of Community averaged in the same slot this fall. Parks and Recreation followed by tying its series low demo rating (1.7). Where NBC really took a bullet was at 9 p.m.: While 30 Rock inched up from its 8 p.m. broadcast to a 1.9 demo (the No. 1 show of the night … on NBC), its performance was a whopping 37 percent below what The Office averaged a week earlier. (Bloomin’ Onion, indeed!) For some reason, NBC decided to throw in a repeat of Up All Night at 9:30, and its numbers predictably sank to a 1.4 in the demo; at 10 p.m., The Firm flatlined again with a 1.0. Overall, from 8 to 11 p.m., NBC averaged a mere 1.4 rating with folks 18 to 49 last night, less than half the audience of second place CBS (2.8) and barely ahead of the all-repeat ABC (1.2).
While the presence of a repeat means we can’t technically call this NBC’s lowest-rated in-season Thursday ever, we’re pretty sure an original Up wouldn’t have done that much better than the repeat that aired last night. (Last October, NBC had an in-season low with a 1.9 average for the night.) Our takeaway from all this: There’s no reason Community shouldn’t be back on NBC’s Thursday sked, pronto. If NBC put the show back on at 8 and replaced the bankrupt Firm at 10 p.m. with 30 Rock originals (and perhaps new comedy Bent), it would probably improve its ratings (if only slightly), while keeping what’s left of its core audience happy. The network clearly needs to find broader-based comedy hits, but that’s not going to happen this season. Give the people what they want, Bob Greenblatt!