The NBC sitcom begins its broadcast syndication run today with 98% clearances on stations owned by Fox, CBS, Sinclair, Hearst Television and others. NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution is hoping it emulates the success of Two and a Half Men and Family Guy.
After five full seasons on NBC, The Office makes its broadcast syndication debut today with hopes running high that it can have the kind of success that Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men and Twentieth Television’s Family Guy have had since they opened in syndication two years ago.
“When you look at the demos, even more so than households, Family Guy and Two and a Half Men have terrific, terrific performance,” says Barry Wallach, president of NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, which is distributing The Office.
“I think The Office demo delivery will be right up there.”
Office is cleared in more than 98 percent of the country on stations owned by Fox, CBS, Sinclair, Hearst and others. It was sold on a cash plus barter ( 5.5/1.5 minute) basis.
“I would put this in the same category as Two and a Half Men,” says Pat Nevin, who, as general manger of Fox’s duopoly in Phoenix, will be running Office on KSAZ (Fox) and KUTP (MNT).
“It does very well in this market in primetime. And it’s probably the most talked-about sitcom since Two and a Half Men.”
The Office will have some competition from two other sitcoms beginning their broadcast syndication runs this week: Twentieth Television’s My Name is Earl and CBS Television Distribution’s Everybody Hates Chris.
But The Office has a better track record in primetime.
Like Two and a Half Men and Family Guy, The Office got off to a relatively slow start on network TV but gradually built up a big, loyal audience.
Last season, Office averaged a 4.9 adult 18-49 rating on NBC, ranking No. 10 among all shows and up from a 4.3 the prior season. Its season premiere last Thursday scored that night’s highest overnight rating in the demo, a 4.0.
Earl (NBC) and Chris (UPN and CW) were canceled at the end of last season after strong network runs.
The Office has also done well since 2007 in its pre-broadcast cable run on Tuesdays on TBS. It ranked No. 4 among cable comedies in second quarter, according to Turner Research, trailing only Meet the Browns on TBS and Family Guy on TBS and Adult Swim.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that broadcast outlets will have to compete with TBS’s Monday-to-Friday airings of the sitcom, which also begins today.
Wallach and station executives like Eddie Brown, general sales manager at WBNX, Cleveland’s CW affiliate, caution that it’ll probably take The Office a few months to find its syndicated audience as it does for many off-network sitcoms.
“Everyone at the station is looking forward to The Office launching in syndication and we have no doubt the loyal Office viewers will stay around for the CW primetime lineup,” says Brown. “But, as always, we’ll just have to wait to see what numbers register on the local people meter.”