We’re living in a DVR world now, where the “500 channels” once dreamt about finally seem to all coexist in our lives and nightly viewing habits. More and more of us aren’t watching TV when the suits have programmed it — unless it’s a cult favorite show with multiple spoilers, in which we feel the need to watch ASAP so we can all discuss the plot twists together. That’s not really an issue for sitcoms, though. If you didn’t see this week’s episode of New Girl on Tuesday night, you’re probably going to be just fine waiting anytime before the following Tuesday to catch up via Hulu or your DVR/TiVo. And TV networks are starting to become OK with that. Particularly if the time-shifted viewing numbers break in their favor.
A month removed from most of the fall TV premieres and series debuts, Nielsen has provided us with the updated ratings figures, taking into account viewers who recorded shows digitally and then watched them within the following seven days. The industry slang for this is L+7.
The big sitcom hits — Modern Family (ABC) and The Big Bang Theory (CBS) — both saw large gains in viewership via DVRs. In terms of percentage gains, New Girl (FOX) and the NBC comedies The Office, Up All Night, and The New Normal, all increased their ratings by 50% when adding in L+7 viewership. That’s particularly good news for rookie sitcom, The New Normal, although it already had received a full season pickup from the Peacock Network. FOX’s Sunday Animation Domination, on the other hand, does not extend past Sunday. They’re watching it then and there. One caveat, though: Numbers from Hulu (which carries many NBC, FOX and ABC programming in the days following original broadcast) don’t appear to be included here. So that could impact the overall “ratings” even more.
What about all of the other network sitcoms this fall?
Let’s take a look at which sitcoms bounced highest in the ratings with L+7 DVR viewing. The key demographic the networks are tracking here is ages 18-49, with the same-day rating, the L+7 rating, and the % increase.
- Modern Family ABC 5.5, 7.8, 42%
- The Big Bang Theory CBS 5.0, 6.9, 38%
- 2 Broke Girls CBS 3.7, 4.8, 30%
- How I Met Your Mother CBS 3.6, 4.7, 31%
- Two and a Half Men CBS 3.5, 4.5, 29%
- Family Guy FOX 3.3, 4.4, 33%
- The Simpsons FOX 3.8, 4.3, 13%
- New Girl FOX 2.8, 4.3, 54%
- Mike & Molly CBS 3.1, 3.9, 26%
- The Neighbors ABC 3.2, 3.8, 19%
- The Middle ABC 2.9, 3.5, 21%
- Go On NBC 2.7, 3.4, 26%
- The Office NBC 2.1, 3.2, 52%
- The Mindy Project FOX 2.4, 3.1, 29%
- The New Normal NBC 2.0, 3.0, 50%
- American Dad FOX 2.5, 3.0, 20%
- Bob’s Burgers FOX 2.6, 2.8, 8%
- Partners CBS 2.4, 2.7, 13%
- Ben & Kate FOX 2.1, 2.5, 19%
- Parks and Recreation NBC 1.7, 2.5, 47%
- Up All Night NBC 1.4, 2.1, 50%
- Guys With Kids NBC 1.6, 2.1, 31%
- Weekend Update Thursday NBC 1.5, 1.9, 27%
- Animal Practice NBC 1.4, 1.9, 36%
Source: The Nielsen Co.