NBC’s Thursday ratings dive

From MediaWeek:

NBC’s ongoing rating woes were clearly visible on Thursday, April 12, with its combination of My Name is Earl, The Office [Safety Training], 30 Rock, Scrubs and ER resulting in the network’s worst performance in the traditional (September to May) season since at least the inception of People Meters (1987) — and perhaps historically — on this once-pivotal evening.

Wow. What is going on here?

Link: NBC Drops to Historical Thursday Low


  1. Well, I don’t want to blame it all on 9/11, but it certainly didn’t help.

    My money’s on Karen. America hates her.

  2. Perhaps television ratings are down in general? I rarely watch tv anymore, but I always download The Office on iTunes, so I’m still watching! I hope “ratings” aren’t the only way NBC judges shows…

  3. semmes like to me the rest of the shows they have beside the office suck. ER is only in its 38th year and the rest are below par at best

  4. I’m just getting into this kind of stuff in school (I’m a communications major), but I don’t think this is as dour as it seems. Comedy is tough to sell these days in the first place since the sitcom zenith died with Friends, Frasier, Raymond, etc. From the looks of it, the networks were scrambled to begin with on Thursday; ABC ran two clip shows instead of new episodes, and many people were expecting an “Earl” rerun that could have hurt the Office lead-in. I don’t know; given the ratings victories the “Office” has shown earlier in the season, I’m not ready to get worried yet.

  5. The 5 week hiatus + “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader”

    NBC already had a tough challenge opposite Survivor, CSI, Fug Betty & Grey’s Anatomy. But all season, they never had to deal with a competitive Fox.

    While they took their 5 week hiatus, 5th Grader made Fox a Thursday night player.

  6. I guess this proves I must be out of step with the rest of the country. Obviously, I’m an Office junkie, and I think 30 Rock is hilarious. Scrubs is great too – what is wrong with the TV-viewing public?

  7. Woah. What happened is right. I don’t even remember what was on Thursday, but I think CSI was new, but wasn’t that it? Or everyone watched the ABC recap thing? Wow. Everyone HAS to keep watching The Office though!

  8. Simple. NBC keeps dicking around with the schedule. People want continuity and an expected product at an expected time. Putting shows on extended hiatuses, running a full night of just one show and eliminating the rest, putting new shows on and then putting them on different nights then bringing them back. It’s impossible to know what’s going to happen next unless you’re a very dedicated viewer. The average viewer isn’t going to put up with it, and if the show of the week isn’t one you care for, you’re not going to watch it obviously. NBC needs to stop with the musical chairs scheduling, stop pre-empting for new shows, stop running new shows after the news and possibly even stop with the super-sizing. I’d hate to set my DVD-R for 7:30 to 8:00 only to find I’ve gotten 15 minutes of My Name is Earl and missed the last half of The Office, or cut off the end of The Office if it was supersized. I’m sure it happens to a lot of casual viewers who like the show but don’t watch the schedules beyond ‘Thursdays at 7:30.’ And as hard as NBC has made this season to watch, it’s really no surprise that viewership would be dropping.

  9. Yikes…that is not cool. We don’t have to worry about TO do we? They got a 2 year renewal a few months ago, so that hopfully means they’re safe from the axe. I wonder if NBC will do some shuffling of the fall schedule.

  10. Wow. Crazy, I liked Earl and Office that night, I don’t watch the rest of the lineup..but still, I wonder why that night was so randomly low. Perhaps people didn’t know of Earl’s return? (and I’m guessing the rest of the lineup was new as well?

  11. People have lost interest because they made us wait so long, maybe?

    and while the episode was funny-it was rather… uneventful….

  12. Maybe NBC should think twice before taking month-long hiatuses between new episodes of its most popular comedies? Hmm, makes sense to me.

  13. I think it’s because of how NBC screws around with scheduling. Put something on at one time and leave it there…I think it’s too confusing for the viewers, and most just give up. I know when a new Office episode is coming up because I care enough to pay attention. That’s not the average viewer. Remember when you could watch a new episode of Seinfield every Thursday night, along with new episodes of the rest of the Must-See lineup? Not so anymore.

  14. i blame it on the large gaps between new episodes and poor viewing tracking technology.

    people are just tired of waiting 4-6-10 weeks between new episodes and find other things to do.

    i wonder how TiVo and DVRs figure into the ratings. i never watch live- i always watch from my DVR.

    i would think that the technology exists to REALLY track how people are REALLY watching, and not just a small percentage of the population via TV logs and a few black boxes.

  15. I think NBC’s long break hurt its shows. Six weeks is a long time and people either forgot or got used to not watching NBC on Thursday.

  16. I’m thinking the extra long hiatus’ that the networks seem to have lately, do not help ratings. Thats my guess. Out of sight out of mind….

  17. I don’t know. I couldn’t really understand the upshot of all those statistics. Does it mean that more people than ususal were watching other channels that night, or than fewer people overall were watching TV and NBC got the brunt of it?

    I thought putting 30 Rock after The Office was a really good move since it’s such a good show too . . .

  18. Well, this is what happens when you have 6 weeks straight of reruns and let casual viewers (not loyal fans like us) get addicted to other new programming on other networks.

  19. Sadly, we watched the Grey’s Anatomy clip show than watching Scrubs live. Seriously though, I blame it all on Sanjaya.

  20. I think the biggest problem is ER – if the goal is to offer up a “comedy night” to compete with Survivor and CSI, then ER just doesn’t fit. Personally, I watch Earl and Office and then switch to something else. Also, I’ve had some people say to me that they don’t like the fact that the line-up seems to switch around a lot (because of super-sized episodes, marathons, etc.) so some weeks they don’t even know when The Office starts. In the end, it’s always going to be tough to compete against Survivor and CSI, two of the most-watched shows on TV.

  21. Maybe it’s because NBC (and other networks) are so haphazard with their scheduling that no one knows when a new episode will air!

    How do they expect to air a new episode then take 3 weeks off before the next one and expect viewers to retain interest?

  22. Are the ratings broken out? I would be curious to see how much of the ratings issues are attributable to the Office (if at all). My Name is Earl is a weak show and should be moved from Thursday. In my opinion Scrubs and ER are getting a bit stale. 30 Rock is very funny and is getting better. I hope more people watch it.

    As for the Office, the 6-week hiatus followed by a time slot change certainly hurt. While Season 3 has been pretty strong, it is no where near as good as Season 2. I don’t think these ratings are any reflection on JAM or the lack thereof, since I think it is developing at a decent pace. Plus the show has done a good job developing some of the other characters like Daryll and Jan, while intriducing new ones like Andy/Drew and Karen.

    The solution is for NBC to purchase the rights to Arrested Development and bring it back to tv. That was the best comedy I have ever seen.

  23. I thought I read somewhere where the ratings for the office went back up during Safety Training? Is that not correct?

    Or maybe the night as a whole plumetted, but the Office ratings were still up… Hmmm, anyone know?

  24. I personally believe it has to do with all these stupid breaks. They’ve been giving us two weeks of episodes, and then we go weeks with any. People probably aren’t informed about the shows because NBC isn’t on a steady schedual.

  25. I can tell you exactly what’s going on. We are bored. The lack of new episodes has caused even the most die-hard fans to not care so much. They totally killed the momentum. I know that a hiatus is necessary (or whatever), but going so long with nothing new makes us all find something else to do with our Thursdays.

    PLUS, Scrubs is SO OLD NEWS by now, as is ER. The Office is the only thing really worth watching. Oh, and a lot of us watch Grey’s after The Office is over.

  26. What does this mean for The Office (in terms of millions)? I saw another article that said The Office got 4.1/11

  27. I don’t know about the other shows, but it didn’t help The Office to have a six-week hiatus that accomplishes nothing except make everyone forget about the show, and more so when the last episode before the hiatus was an unappealing high-school drama.

  28. You know, I really think the six week hitatus was not a good idea. Many of the casual viewers probably don’t realize there are even new episodes.

  29. I think it’s because they weren’t playing Andy Barker, P.I. and instead played Scrubs (which is just not very funny anymore).

  30. Honestly, I’m not surprised. I think a number viewers lost interest or got lost in the scheduling confusion (marathons, special times, supersized episodes, newpeats, etc)after such a long hiatus and it’s going to take a while for them to find their way back. Last week’s supersized episodes started at odd times and this week’s return to the usual schedule is a little discombobulating unless a viewer stays on top of things via the internet or reads a TV Guide religiously. Ratings will probably shake out as soon as May sweeps approach. Besides, did anyone else notice there was hardly any advertising for the April 12 comedy block. The only time I saw the promo was on youtube!

  31. I know that in my hometown, for the last few months, NBC’s broadcast has gone out for the Thursday night line up. The trouble starts during Earl and goes out completely for the Office. I realize that this is probably not a huge factor, but the Gulf Coast region from Alabama to Louisiana can’t watch the line up even if they want to.

  32. It seems The Office did well ratings wise (especially among young viewers) and gained 37 percent more viewers than it’s lead in Earl, but as a whole NBC took a dive Thursday night. I think those six weeks of repeats really hurt all the shows. And I think Scrubs and ER both have run their course.

  33. Maybe it’s becuase a lot of people were on Spring break last week. I dont know, it’s my guess though.

  34. To the person who said NBC should buy the rights to Arrested Development – PERFECT!!! It would solve all their problems. Could you imagine AD followed by the Office? I would die of joy before I could watch that.

    I’m a ratings newbie. What did the Office get last Thursday, and can someone intepret the score for me?

  35. We’re underestimating the power of that Earl lead-in.

    If there’s one show NBC has dicked around, it’s Earl, and now their audience has quietly shifted.

    What a coincidence: A show that was doing 9 million weekly drops to 6.4, after a two month hiatus. And during their hiatus, Office got an hour in addition to an early return AND a marathon.

    Not holding anything against Office, of course. But NBC really hurt their Earl cashcow.

  36. If they would air at a different time than Grey’s Anatomy and Survivor, more people would watch. (I hate those shows by the way, but everyone else seems to like them :-)

    I think that My Name is Earl is a WEAK lead-in.
    I think that if The Office came on at 8/7c, followed by 30 Rock, then Scrubs, then My Name is Earl, ratings would be better. I know a LOT of people that like 30 Rock, Scrubs, The Office and Grey’s Anatomy. NBC’s other problem is that they are selling episodes like hotcakes on iTunes, and tiVo is going crazy. Most people Tivo or purchase comedy shows, because they are more likely to watch them at leisure.

    The other major problem is that NBC takes way too many breaks. I never understood why the Office always starts in September and ends in May, and there are like 20 weeks of reruns. Wouldn’t it be better to take a cue from Lost or 24, and air several episodes back to back? That seems to be working very well for FOX and ABC.

    The final problem is actually a good one. There is just a whole lot of really good content on television right now. From Lost, to Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, 30 Rock, The Office, Prison Break, Friday Night Lights, Boston Legal, House, and many others, there’s just a
    whole lot of good TV going on right now!

  37. This happens in TV. Remember Three seasons ago ABC was in the dumps. NBC needs a new approach. Time to move Hero’s to Thursday and move ER to Monday. I also and this is radical but The Office is to short and should be an hour long show. Sitcoms in Britain are usually an hour long. Scrubs should be moved, because as good as the show is, it isn’t being watched. Next season should be 30 Rock at 8(eastern) My Name Is Earl at 8:30. The Office at 9. Heroes at 10. 30 Rock will maintain the mediocre ratings. Same with My Name. The Office could pick up some ratings and it could fail, but it is a risk that must be taken. Heroes will steal ratings for sure.

  38. Andy Barker didn’t help, that was awful.

    Neither did a 5-6 week hiatus. Or 4 weeks of depressing episodes of the Office during the sweeps. I like the show but that arc was off-putting to some viewers I know.

    But mainly it’s probably Survivor. Earlier this year, around Jan/Feb when there was no Survivor on, the ratings for The Office spiked up noticeably.

  39. UNSHUN…

    Ratings are so overrated (pun).
    As long as enough of us watch it so that the show stays on the air, I could care less if millions of others tune out.


  40. i know i saw at least one other person mention this, but i know in my hometown the nbc channel completely went out on thursday and didnt come back till saturday. its kinda hard to watch when you only see a blue screen.

    but even if that hadnt happened, to repeat everything that everyone has said, the hiatus killed a lot of people’s desire and the random show times are confusing for those who dont check obsessively, like i do.

    nbc. figure it out.

  41. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t even turn on my TV until 8:29. I think Earl is what’s hurting the NBC ratings.

  42. I posted this on TWOP as well, but this “dire” observation has been exagerrated. “Earl” and “ER” are both coming out of long hiatuses, while “30 Rock” and “Scrubs” are making timeslot premieres. “The Office” was the only show last week on NBC Thursdays that had numbers consistent with seasonal ratings, and surprise, surprise, it was the only show that had (1) a new episode last week, and (2) was in its usual timeslot this week. If the ratings remain consistently low during May sweeps, then I would be concerned.

    I think folks just dismiss “ER” offhandedly. It’s been NBC’s best performer in overall ratings and adults 18-49 on Thursdays this season, despite this being its 13th (!) season. It does this also despite having practically no lead-in to speak of, whereas “Shark” on CBS has “CSI” and “Men in Trees” (is that still on?) has “Grey’s Anatomy”. Give credit where credit is due….”ER” does a fantastic job given the situation it’s in (and it’s been having a consistently good, workmanlike season too, IMO). The problem is “30 Rock” (though the critical darling that it is) isn’t pulling in the numbers NBC expects it to be pulling in and it’s dragging the rest of the schedule with it.

  43. I agree that that all the re-runs screwed them over. I know people that missed the Office (new episodes) because they didn’t think there were new ones.

  44. Yeah, I don’t think The Office is in much danger (I do worry about 30 Rock, though). Scrubs and Earl are pretty much past it, and I didn’t even know ER was on anymore. The hiatus didn’t help, but I also think the whole Neilsen ratings system is becoming more and more irrelevant, what with DVR, TiVo, and iTunes. But it seems pretty clear that NBC loves The Office and are clinging to it as their one critical darling and ratings winner.

  45. SIX WEEKS HIATUS, two new shows and then a re-reun. Only devoted fans are going to stick with that schedule.

  46. i don’t get this because it’s only this year that i’ve started watching “the lineup” and i can name many other who have started watching it, but i guess canadians are different from americans (if this is only based on the U.S. that is)

  47. I agreee with everyone about the scheduling and the casual viewership. If I wasn’t a crazy The Office fan, then my husband who loves The Office would have no idea about the “supersized” episodes, new times, and such. And I second whoever said The Office should be an hour long, that would be one heavenly Thursday night :-)

  48. The Office is safe — they won emmy last year — they just won a very prestigious Peabody award (surprised this wasn’t mentioned on the site) and I am sure the money generated by itunes has paid the cost of the production of the show .. I always imagined the Office would become a big hit in syndication when it gets there

  49. In addition to the erratic scheduling and extended repeats, basically, NBC does not have much that anyone is watching. Heroes is on its own hiatus and the Monday Deal or No Deal, which used to be strong, is getting killed by Dancing with the Stars. So, unless you are a diehard fan, you just don’t watch it live. I have also read where TO is one of the most DVR’d shows as well as one of the most downloaded shows on iTunes. I am sure that is not reflected in the ratings.

  50. I think everyone here has pretty much hit the nail on the head: long hiatus, switching the scheduling around, trying to compete with Survivor and CSI, people watching from DVR instead of live, Fox’s 5th Grader show…

    I don’t know what they’re going to do to fix this problem, but it’s clear they need someone to do some creative thinking. Oh yeah, and drop ER. Nobody cares anymore.

  51. The problem isn’t The Office. Ratings actually went up last week following the 6-week hiatus when The Negotation didn’t have to good of a showing

    I have a feeling NBC will break up the Thursday night comedy block next year

  52. Leading off the evening with “My Name is Earl” might not be helping.

  53. NBC is becoming like Fox was when it scewed up what they had with arrested development. they are taking hiatuses, changing time slots, etc. Its not smart, especially with a killer show like the office.

    as far as NBC goes, they are dumb. any network that will cancel a decent, new, developing show like The Black Donnellys and put in its place The Real Wedding Crashers will get what it deserves in the ratings war. and us fans of the Office will surelybe the ones to suffer ebcause of it….oh well

  54. I honestly believe the ratings dive has something to due with the 4-5 week absence of new episodes. people have a routine of watching shows a certain time during the week, then they have a full month of no episodes and they’re all of a sudden doing something else with their Thurs night. it was a bad decision to take such a long break

  55. I agree with Bales (58). You hit the nail on the head.
    Hiatuses are tough, but the show is also a solid performer on itunes. The new episodes are always top sellers on the front page of the itunes store, and EW has mentioned several times that the show does really well in tivo too. My parents wait to get it off itunes because they hate the protracted commercial breaks NBC sticks in the episodes to break them up.
    I agree that it would be wise to bump Heroes to Thursday next year; it would be a stretch for them to reformat the office to an hour-long show mid-stream (though we’d all love it) so I don’t see that happening…

  56. I agree that Andy Barker really stunk up the schedule for a few weeks there. I’m glad it’s dead. More supersized Offices!

  57. /flame suit on
    My Name is Earl is a terrible show. The Office is starting to lose viewers because of three reason. First, Michael Scott has become way over the top with his behavior. It is not even believable anymore, rather so annoying that people would rather just change the channel. There was a great article written about this earlier this season. Second, they are doing a terrible job with the Pam/Jim storyline this season. I honestly believe that a vast majority of viewers tuned in during the first two seasons so they could see how the Pam/Jim relationship played out. The media spouted that this was one of the great tv loves. This season, their relationship has really gone nowhere since the first episode, completely unfulfilling to the average viewer. Third, the unbelievably awful timeline they have setup for showing new episodes. One week on, one week off, one week on, two weeks off, 4 weeks off, reruns blah blah blah.

    As a prior fanboy, I honestly believe that the Office and its viewers will only go downhill from here

  58. another Office re-run this Thurs?? hmmmmm. I wonder why the ratings have dropped. I def won’t be watching NBC this Thurs

    also.. I have NBC’s answer to bring the ratings up for Thurs night….
    put Rashida Jones on Earl, 30 Rock, and Scrubs

  59. hmmm Andy Barker is not on and the ratings go to crap! That’s my thought..not really based on anything..I just really like that show.

  60. Voltaire – I don’t know you, but I love you for your support for Arrested Development.

  61. It’s the hiatus’s that’s the problem. People don’t know when shows are on anymore.

  62. I truly love the office… however, I believe that part of the problem is having very minimal plot progression. While I know that this show is written to imitate what would happen in real life, it is to the point that many watchers, especially JAM fans are becoming really really fed up with the writers exclusion of any activity on that front. Yes, we did have a February sweeps that had some JAM action, the plot progresses so slowly that I have become very frustrated. Season two was incredibly well written and hilarious. This season just seems to be lacking something

  63. I will never understand why something like this happens. NBC’s Thursday comedy lineup have the best comedies on TV from any network – why more people watch comedies like Two and a Half Men or Till Death than any one of the four NBC Thursday comedies, is a complete mystery. It’s the same thing with why aren’t more people watching Friday Night Lights? These are all top notch shows on NBC, yet NBC is in fourth place. I guess it’s because they don’t have big reality shows like Idol or Dancing with the Stars, but instead have actual creative and interesting shows with amazing stories and actors! Unfortunately, that’s not what the greater population (or at least Neilsen box owners) are drawn too!

  64. The NBC affliate in my area pre-empted all of the Thursday night programming for a minor league baseball game. They split up the shows and aired some on Saturday and some on Sunday. It was awful. I was really angry that I had to wait until Saturday to watch The Office.

  65. I completely agree with you NoGould (#11). NBC jerks us around with this absurdly unpredictable schedule and they should expect the ratings to suffer because of it.

    You make stupid business decisions and the results show. Maybe if NBC actually gave us a consistent lineup they would see how fans stick by the show.

    I’m feeling very bitter towards NBC lately. I’m really sick of getting Office episodes so irregularly. It’s been really absurd this season.

    …And quite an amazing quote Gobias (#2)

  66. Earl as lead-in to The Office? Terrible idea NBC. These shows have different audiences. Earl is a pick-up truck. The office is a Ferrari (or at least a Sebring).

  67. i really think the 6 week hiatus had something to do with it- not only for the office, but for other shows too like Heroes. There have been other times throughout the season too when the office and other shows were repeats for 2 or 3 weeks or not shown at all. sometimes its hard to get caught up in a storyline (especially for new viewers) if a show isn’t consistently on. i know we all know when the new episodes are because we’re huge fans, but not everyone visits officetally to know the scoop. if NBC wants to raise its viewership they ought to think about this stuff more carefully! long live the office!!

  68. NBC was also out in my hometown, like it was for Gigi (#44) and kimberleY (#54). I was so mad. I was forced to sit through the Grey’s Anatomy clip show because I had nothing else to do. It wasn’t fun at all. =(

  69. “Hey, leave the mothers out of this. It’s unnecessary. Besides, I’m sure Wes here is just upset about finishing second in the ratings again.”

    “That’s completely uncalled for, Burgundy. You know those rating systems are flawed. They don’t take in account houses that have… uh… more than two television sets… and…other things of that nature.”

  70. my two cents: every single show on ‘Comedy Night Done Right’ is good. I really like Earl, Scrubs, and 30 Rock. I watch each of them often. but I never miss an episode of The Office.

    and as for NBC’s competition … I’m with the guy who said “I guess I’m just out of step.” people watch trashy TV, always have, but I’d rather have my chest waxed than watch Grey’s, CSI, Survivor, etc. that stuff bores me to tears.

  71. Like everyone else has said already, it’s definitely the screwed up schedule. Only us die-hard Office fans actually keep up with the schedule and get antsy waiting for new episodes- the majority of viewers (i.e., casual viewers who just enjoy the show) aren’t going to care that much about it and will just watch Grey’s Anatomy or something else like that. Not to mention the black hole that is reality television…reality tv (American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, etc.) definitely eats up all the ratings of other shows, even if they’re not in the same timeslots.

  72. Oh, and I think Earl usually gets better ratings then the Office, for all those people who say it’s a terrible lead-in. I’m not sure if that’s true but I think I read that somewhere.

  73. It would help if they just permanently made some of their comedies 40 or 45 minutes long instead of the erratic supersizing which while I welcome the extra time, confuses viewers.

  74. Wow! The Office is and has been my favorite show. I’d rather watch reruns of The Office than pretty much any
    of the other junk on TV. Oh well. I still think it’s zoppity! How do they get these “ratings” anyway?

  75. cherzzz, I don’t know you, but I like you because of your love of AD. I own all 3 season on DVD and have seen every episode a minimun of three (3) times. And I sign my (real) name T (Tyler) whenever I leave a note.

    AD got screwed when Fox put it on an erratic schedule. Airing no episodes, then 4, then reruns, then 1 new one, then nothing for 3 weeks, then 4 episodes one night, then…etc. Please, please, please, NBC, don’t do that to The Office!

    To those who don’t like this season: it’s different, sure, but it’s just as good. You can’t expect the writers to use the same ideas over and over – then you’d say it was stale.

    The Office doesn’t have ratings trouble, yet, but NBC is doing its best. Please, NBC, listen! You’ve given us supersized episodes, newpeats, online deleted scenes, and so much wonderful stuff, but whatever you do, keep the show alive!

  76. Probably because of the hiatus/reruns and also due to the fact you’ll get one great episode, three bland/terrible episodes, reruns/hiatus, one great episode, four awful episode.etc

  77. Scrubs’ time period was switched with 30 Rock. Scrubs is infinitely better than 30 rock, so people just said screw it and watched Greys or CSI or whatever is on at that time.

  78. To those who think “Earl” is a bad lead-in for “The Office”, let’s not forget that during the early days of our show when it was struggling in the ratings, it was “Earl” (yes, “Earl”), that provided the lead-in support for “The Office” and helped it on its feet. “The Office” might be able to stand on its own now, but we should be thankful to “Earl” for helping our show right at the start.

  79. I can’t believe people honestly think Earl’s a “bad lead-in.” Have you not seen most of the ratings? Earl’s average is somewhere between 9 & 10 million (The Office is around 8.5)

    Like bale pointed out, it was Earl becoming a ratings hit that The Office is still around. It wasn’t until the first six weeks of the Earl/Office hour (on Tuesdays) that NBC even decided to extend the Office’s second season. Bottom line, a ratings hit is not a bad lead-in at all. The Office wouldn’t be on the air now had it been originally paired with Scrubs (like it was during the first season.)

    The true irony is that a couple months ago, when Kevin Reilly made his infamous “all reality shows at 8pm” comment, he said he wouldn’t mess with his powerhouse Earl/Office lineup. What did he do? Well, he essentially bumped Earl out of its 8pm timeslot for almost a month during the hiatus. The end result is last Thursday’s numbers. My guess is 1/3 of Earl’s audience (and a large chunk of casual Office viewers) are watching that awful Smarter Than A 5th Grader show. Look at the numbers. Earl disappears at 8pm, 5th Grader suddenly arrives on Fox, Thurdays @ 8 and becomes a hit. Earl returns and suddenly a chunk of its audience has vanished.

  80. Thankfully we’re at the end of the season, so May sweeps should bring in some bigger numbers.

    Now if The Office’s 4th season average stays at 7 million, we’re in trouble. Then again, if that RickyGervais.com thing about a two season renewal is true, then there’s nothing to worry about. But if The Office suddenly drops to Scrubs numbers (a steady average around 6 million), then expect Steve to jump ship after the show reaches syndication minimums at the end of the 5th season.

  81. I think that Earl gets great ratings…I just think that it’s a boring, low-brow comedy. But if it’s what keeps it on the air…so be it.

    To tell you the truth, I think that iTunes sales are what NBC and ABC care more about than actual ratings right now. The revenue for them is pouring in from 30 Rock, Office and Scrubs. They are constantly in the top 10, usually in the top 5! And the Office has been constantly praised for it’s powerhouse iTunes performance.

    In the end it doesn’t really matter, because NBC has already ordered a full season of The Office and 30 Rock, and is expected to pick up the other 2 comedies as well. At least if they don’t pick up Scrubs, ABC is MORE than willing to pick it back up, since they already produce the show.

    This season of the Office has been crazy with it’s scheduling, and I think most people are fed up with the whole TV viewing experience and would rather wait until they can watch the whole season on DVD.

    If it wasn’t for HDTV, I know that I’d just wait to watch the Office until the next day on iTunes or Tivo, so that I didn’t have to deal with commercials.

    The main problem with TV Nielsen ratings is that they are an extremely outdated mode of calculating viewers. It doesn’t count TiVo, or iTunes or Tv-DVD Sales of viewers, it only counts a small test/target audience of people.

    Both seasons of the Office are some of the highest selling TV-DVD sets out there…right behind Lost!
    I mean, people watch this show!
    NBC knows that, and in my opinion, if American Idol, and other crappy “reality” shows continue to dominate the airwaves and get great ratings, I think that says more about Neilsen ratings then it does about television.

  82. The long break and erratic schedule of NBC’s Thursday definitely wouldn’t hold a casual viewer’s attention. Even moderate fans seem to have a hard time keeping up.

    Also, I don’t think this years Feb Sweeps episodes roped in many new viewers.

    Does the Office still enjoy having the biggest “jump” in ratings when DVD-r and iTunes stuff is factored it? Hopefully that still counts for something . . .

  83. i know how to increase the ratings for NBC’s thursday night lineup. have everyone sleep with each other.

    seems to work for grey’s anatomy.

  84. it’s all the long breaks and reruns. i think we’ve had more reruns this season than new episodes.

    it’s hard to entice people to watch a show — no matter how good it is — if every other week after a 1.5 month break filled with reruns you have yet another rerun.

  85. More reruns than new episodes?
    There have been more than 20 reruns?

    just listen to what you’re saying.

  86. well yeah, the rerun count this year is up there if you look all the office marathons there have been in addition to just singular episodes. it’s ridiculous.

  87. Gosh dangit I LOVE this forum!

    I love how concerned we all are about our beloved show! I feel like such a nerd, but I really love this community!

    I, like most of you, blame NBC for neglecting our beloved Office by moving it around and taking huge breaks. The momentum drops so much.

    p.s. (#32) NJ Branch – I think your Arrested Development idea is dead on.
    and Gobias (#2) – AMAZING!

  88. Maybe they should stop doing so many damn breaks between episodes. That obviously kills the anticipation knowing they have to wait 2 or more weeks for a new ep.

  89. it’s actually not that bad. When you think about it….NBC is really to blame for this…taking six weeks off for a show is what hurts a show…if you dont’ believe me…ask ABC about lost…the show started doing bad after they took and extended break. Trust me office fans, when the 4 episodes play in the final run the ratings will jump back up.

  90. I totally think that the ratings dive is bc of 2 things.

    #1:They have taken too many haitus’ this season (at least with the Office) and the hiatus’ have lasted too long. Oh, look. This week is yet ANOTHER rerun. NOT HELPING!

    #2: Perhaps tv viewers are sick of getting their chains yanked by NBC. Look at the Jim/Pam debacle that is Season 4 of the Office vs. the Derek/Meredith angle of Grey’s. Grey’s is great b/c it moves forward QUICKLY. This season of the Office has been very disappointing, IMO.

  91. Sorry, season 3 of The Office… and Grey’s IS a great show. At least it is fast paced and they don’t DRAG out their romantic storylines….

    Plus, in Canada, Grey’s and The Office aren’t on at the same time, so that’s not a factor here…

    I blame frequent interuptions to storylines aka hiatus’.

  92. The majority of America has bad taste and watches bandwagon shows. That’s it. I hate that when I go down my AIM buddy list on a Thursday night, everyone’s away message says “Watching Grey’s”. YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING THE OFFICE!

  93. I agree with many of the reasons stated here – fiddling with schedules, long hiatuses, the decline of “Earl.”

    All that said, I have clips of Seasons One and Two going on in the background right now, and let’s face facts: “The Office” is not nearly as good today as it was then.

    I mean, I still enjoy Season Three. It’s the only show I make a point to watch each week. But the decrease in quality is quite obvious.

  94. As some of you may have mentioned, I think the writers have made a huge mistake this year handling Jim and Pam. Their chemistry espically in season 2 added a lot to this show. We had the goofy humor from Michael and Dwight which was balanced well by Jim and Pam, characters we could relate to and root for.
    If you go back and watch the episodes from season 3 to this point, the Jim/Pam interaction is pretty much nonexistant. I think in the writers’ quest to drag on this will they/wont they get together drama, they have hurt the show overall by taking their dynamic away. When I watch a Jim/Pam scene this season I more often than not cringe rather than smile..and that’s not a good thing.

  95. Because why watch the Office at 8:30pm when you can DVR it or buy it on iTunes? Neither of those impact the ratings…

  96. I dont get it why people are saying that this season of the office is worse than second season. Every episode of this season was great, and very funny. Maybe there’s not a lot of JAM but who cares “old Pammie is getting what she wants”, and rating went down only becasue of the long break, but soon they will raise again… :)

  97. There are a lot of reasons for the dive.
    1 – Serious competition from the other networks during that time period.

    2 – A lot of people just don’t “get” the Office humor – no laugh track to tell them when to laugh, very awkward, etc.

    3 – It’s spring and around Easter and lots of schools go on spring break – I would expect all ratings to be down.

    4 – It doesn’t consider I tunes – the Office is always tops for I tunes episodes.

    5 – Jim and Pam this season have been a turn off. Very little interaction; no chemistry, etc. I actually know people who stopped watching after GWH because they thought it was stupid that they didn’t get together then and they didn’t tune in for a soap, but a comedy.

    Finally, this is just my opinion, they blew it during Feb sweeps. Those episodes were not ones I ever care to watch again. Not awkward so much as painful and not very funny. I watch primarily for the funny and I have seen all season 1 and season 2 episodes multiple times, as well as Travelling Salesman and the Return from Season 3. The Feb episodes, when they were supposed to bring on the good stuff and entice more viewers to tune in weekly, were very sub-par for the Office. I can’t imagine new people caring so much to keep viewing if they just tuned in then.

  98. I for one think the NBC network is too quick to pull the trigger on new shows, and their premature cancellation reputation is making potential viewers shy away from even trying a new show. Why bother when the rug is going to be pulled out halfway into the story arc?

  99. UNSHUN…

    Here’s my opinion:
    A lot of people are commenting on how the show isn’t what it used to be. Well, what is? Almost everything is better when it’s new and fresh. Think about your favorite band/artist. The first couple of albums will always be better than their new stuff right? That is unless they evolve and change things up a little by giving their audience something innovating and different. And that is what’s happening to this show. The writers have a tough situation. If they repeat an entertainment formula similar to Season 2 then some will say “Oh it’s the same ol stuff.” But if they try new things, which they’re doing this season, then some say “It’s not what it used to be.” I prefer the latter without the concern of living up to past episodes. Anyone agree?


  100. Some of you need to work on the reading comprehension and not jump on The Office sucks bandwagon. The Office ratings aren’t the problem on that night for NBC

  101. The hiatus made me less interested in seeing the next epsiode actually. I was super obsessed with the show and then six weeks… for not a lot. That was disappointing and kind of turned me off from it a bit. A lot of my friends forgot it was coming back on that night too.

  102. HamburgerHalpert is right: The ratings are averages for all NBC Thursday shows last week, folks! “The Office”, on its own, scored a 4.1 ratings in the adults 18-49 demo, which was only behind “Survivor” (4.4) in its timeslot. “The Office” is doing fine in the ratings, this season has been great, and Jim/Pam will live happily ever after (I wish!)

  103. I find the numbers hard to interpret, and it seems like the crew involved with The Office read the fine print when it comes to their ratings – i.e. specific demographics instead of overall numbers.

    I have to agree with everyone else who has said that the NBC schedule is to blame for the strange ratings drop. And they’re doing it with a lot of their shows – The Office, My Name is Earl, Heroes, etc. It’s really frustrating when you get into a routine and then they pull the plug on you for a month. I’m a loyalist with these shows, and I have to make myself keep my enthusiasm. With the weather getting warm, they better throw some new stuff at me consistantly or I’m going to find other entertainment.

    A few other notes:
    * ER has got to go. Enough already. Give Maura Tierney her own show, or something, just kill that dinosaur.
    * Bringing in Arrested Development is not only an impossibility, it’s idiotic. NBC would never spring on a show that grabbed ratings that dismal, no matter how critically acclaimed it was. Now maybe if they had developed that show THEMSELVES, like The Office, and stuck with it you might have something. Plus, really folks, it wasn’t that good. Really.
    * Though it will probably never happen, moving The Office to an hour-long program would be fantastic. The super-sized episodes almost always seem to have the best flow.
    * There could very well be a large population of JAM crybabies out there who just can’t handle any other storyline. The relationship that kick-started this series could end up burying it. But we all saw that coming, right?

  104. Filipino Office Fan, I agree.

    And at my high school, every Friday I go around asking “did you watch the office last night?!?!” And I’ll always get “nos.” When people say they’ve scene it this season, they say they saw an episode from early in Season 3. JAM at this point won’t get you causal viewers. And I’ll confess to having been sucked up in the drama, which needs to go away. I don’t care if Jim and Pam ever get together, because that’s not the Office. The Office is Jim playing pranks on Dwight.

  105. Fillipino office fan – the problem with that theory is they didn’t give us anything new this season. This season they went straight to the tired old TV formula of keep the romantic leads apart through contrived obstacles. That arc has led to a lot of “haven’t I seen this 3,000 times?” reaction by viewers.

    Putting the romantic leads together earlier than expected, which is what many thought was happening after Casino Night, would have been doing something innovative.

  106. Rick Kushman has a column in today’s Sacramento Bee (sacbee.com) that looks at some of the reasons for NBC’s Thursday night woes. It’s in the “Entertainment” section of their website.

    I’d post the link but don’t know if that’s kosher here at OT. As a longtime lurker but only recent poster, I wouldn’t want to incur the Wrath of Tan.

  107. #32- F yes. Arrested Development on Thursday nights w/ The Office? I would probably wet myself.

    I really don’t know what comment to make considering everyone has pretty much hit the nail on the head. I personally don’t care for Earl, but i do like The Office, 30Rock (after watching it for the first time last Thurs), and Scrubs. I usually just DVR CSI so i can watch 30Rock and Scrubs.

  108. If the Office is the highest rated comedy in NBC’s line-up for Thurs night, NBC should put it first at 8:00 and hopefully draw more fans to the other shows. Then it could go head to head with Survivor and Ugly Betty. Those audiences don’t leave halfway through their show to tune to the Office at 8:30. It would probably be better as an hour show as well, since it is competing against hour shows, but I’m afraid we just wouldn’t get as many new episodes throughout the year if they made it an hour.

  109. Their source is Nielsen Media Research which is an outdated useless system. Until they update the way they get their research, these numbers mean nothing.

  110. I think everyone’s made really good points…NBC needs to come on over and see what the fans are saying- they don’t give us enough credit!

    I think the main thing that has brought down the ratings have been all the re-reuns- Putting in all those breaks makes everything really anticlimatic.

    They need to put The Office on at 7 to go up against Ugly Betty…If I remember correctly, Friends went on at 7, leading the Thursday night lineup since it was the anchor…they should follow suit.

  111. I often agree with Kushman’s analyses and I think he has good taste in shows. If you didn’t follow the link below, here’s a snippet:

    “Part of the problem is that the NBC comedies are unusual and quirky in their rhythm and tone, and they take some getting used to. Many viewers are so fed up with weak, unfunny comedies that they don’t stick around long enough to get a feel for shows like, say, “30 Rock,” which gets funnier every week.”

    I’d add that some of NBC’s shows, particularly The Office, 30 Rock and Studio 60, are shows that are character-driven and subtly written. That means they don’t necessarily appeal to the masses. To be blunt, it takes someone with some smarts to enjoy comedy that isn’t plainly obvious. I don’t mean to offend but there are simply people who don’t get The Office or miss the references on 30 Rock or can’t keep pace with the dialogue on Studio 60. What’s unfortunate is that NBC, if they want to compete, will be forced to dumb down their product.

  112. 30 Rock is really really funny and a lot of people still haven’t caught on to this show for whatever. Scrubs is great too. I never quite got around to liking My Name is Earl.

    NBC’s thursday lineup is full of show’s that have niche audiences. They have relatively small but loyal audiences. They are not exactly ratings giants and NBC shouldn’t expect them to be. 30 Rock and The Office especially feature very particular types of humor which a lot of people just don’t get. I hate to say that these shows are too smart for a lot of people but they sorta are.

    I’m a little scared for 30 Rock, I hope NBC doesn’t make a rash decision with it. I also hope they don’t go too crazy with the lineup shuffles. I’m a little scared they might change the nights and only make the ratings situation worse.

  113. The Office is great, 30 Rock I’ve liked since the start and seems to be getting better, My Name is Earl has its moments but I don’t make an effort to see it, Scrubs needed to go a while ago, never liked that one.

    Studio 60 was/is great. Is that even on anymore?
    The Black Donnellys was another show I liked and they pulled the plug.

    Of all the shows that might be in danger I hope they keep 30 Rock.

    The Office is going no where :)

  114. I think part of the problem is the complete disconnect between Earl and The Office. I mean, Earl is redneck humor while The Office is white collar humor. Even disregarding the possible difference in writing quality, it doesn’t strike me that the same people would laugh at trailer parks and office shenanigans.

    I’ll bet the people at earltally.com wonder why people think the office is funny…

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