Of the nine sitcoms that debuted on the broadcast network this fall, only three are showing any kind of syndication potential for 2016 when they would typically become available for syndication play — NBC’s Go On with Matthew Perry (pictured), Fox’s The Mindy Project and NBC’s The New Normal from Glee’s Ryan Murphy.
For a genre that was supposedly revived by ABC’s Modern Family four years ago, new sitcoms on the broadcast network schedule this fall are in bad shape — so bad that TV stations looking for off-network comedies in a few years may not have much, if anything, to choose from.
Show debuting this season would typically be available for syndication play starting in fall 2016.
Of the nine newcomers, only three are drawing the kind of viewership that gives shows second lives in syndication — and just barely. NBC’s Go On with Matthew Perry, Fox’s The Mindy Project and NBC’s The New Normal from Glee’s Ryan Murphy.
Go On has a 2.5 adult 18-49 rating while Mindy has a 2.1, based on Nielsen’s live-plus-same-day ratings through Oct. 28. The New Normal has a 1.9, but working in its favor is a 47% bump from DVR playback, the most of any freshman sitcom.
As a point of comparison, top-rated Modern Family has a 5.0 while 2 Broke Girls has a 3.5 and mid-tier show The Middle has a 2.6 rating.
Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming at Katz Television Group, says Go On is the only show with real syndicated potential at this point. “The New Normal has an outside shot.”
Brad Adgate, SVP of research at Horizon Media, says Fox’s Mindy has a decent chance, too. He reasons the show’s relatively young audience, which is comparable to second-year show New Girl, will work in its favor.
“New Girl has a median age of 34 and it has a 2.7 rating in adults 18-49,” he says. “By comparison, Mindy’s median age is 35.2.”
Raycom CEO Paul McTear doesn’t find anything to like in the sitcom class of 2012. “There doesn’t appear to be any off-net sitcom hits for the future.
“For a traditional news station in a market, ABC, CBS or NBC, this doesn’t have any impact. But if you’re a Fox or CW station, then this is a cause for concern. Sitcoms used to set the table for the primetime audience,” he says. “But even those stations have been moving away from that because we haven’t seen blockbuster sitcom hits like we saw in the past.”
In addition to Go On, New Normal and Mindy, the networks have given full-season orders to three of the other new sitcoms, keeping their syndication hopes alive — Guys with Kids (NBC), The Neighbors (ABC), and Ben & Kate (Fox).
But none has amassed much of an audience.
The Neighbors has a 2.0 rating. Ben & Kate and Guys With Kids trail far behind, each with a 1.5 rating.
As for the other new comedies, NBC canceled Animal Practice and the fates of CBS’s Partners or ABC’s Malibu Country are still up in the air.
Partners has a 2.1 rating in the 18-49 demo, but it loses 36% of its lead-in rating from How I Met Your Mother. Malibu debuted last Friday to a promising 2.3 rating.
The good news for syndication watchers is that three more sitcoms are in the can awaiting midseason debuts: CBS Studio’s Friend Me on CBS, Sony’s Save Me with Anne Heche on NBC and Twentieth Television’s Goodwin Games with Scott Foley on Fox.
Go On’s syndication value may be determined in part by how well ABC’s Modern Family does when it begins its syndication run in fall 2013.
Its current 5.0 rating on ABC prime puts it ahead of The Big Bang Theory, which does a 4.8 on CBS and which is currently the No. 1 off-net comedy.
But like Go On, Modern Family is a single-camera production, which generally struggles in syndication.
Perhaps not coincidentally, NBC’s third-season sitcom Up All Night is retooling from a single-camera comedy into a multi-camera comedy. The show will return in February.