Comedy Genre Completes Comeback With Dominating Fall Showing, Dramas Falter

It turns out Modern Family was the Robin that signaled the comedy spring at the broadcast networks. Two years after the Emmy-winning ABC series became the first out-of-the-gate big comedy hit in years, the genre’s comeback is complete, while dramas appear headed for a down cycle. Here are the facts:

Four new series have been given full-season orders so far this fall — all of them comedies: Fox’s New Girl, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls and NBC’s Up All Night and Whitney. For the first time in a long time, there has been no breakout new drama 3 weeks into the season, and no hourlong freshman series has been given a back-nine order. What’s more, two of the four renewed new comedies, New Girl and 2 Broke Girls, have become rare instant hits. In comparison, it took CBS’ The Big Bang Theory a couple of seasons to find its footing and rose to a hit status after being put behind Two And A Half Men in its third season. And CBS’ How I Met Your Mother just found a new gear with series highs in its seventh season.

With many veteran dramas fading, comedies dominate the fall schedule, especially in the key adults 18-49 demographic. A comedy series has been the top entertainment program in 18-49 on every night that features comedies during each of the first three weeks of the new season. That includes the five most-watched nights of the week: Monday, where Two And A Half Men is the top dog, Tuesday (rookie New Girl), Wednesday (Modern Family), Thursday (The Big Bang Theory) and Sunday (Fox’s Family Guy, which leads the entertainment pack behind Sunday Night Football). What’s more, on three of the five nights, those comedies were also the most watched programs (Two And A Half Men, Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory)

For Week 2 of the season, the most recent week for which we have full ratings information, comedies were the top 7 highest-rated entertainment series among adults 18-49:
1. Two And A Half Men (7.4/17)
2. Modern Family (5.7/15)
3. The Big Bang Theory (4.9/15)
4. Mike & Molly (4.8/11)
5. 2 Broke Girls (4.6/12)
6. How I Met Your Mother (4.5/12)
7. New Girl (4.5/11)
The first drama to make an appearance is CBS’ veteran NCIS (4.2/12) at No.8.

With ABC’s new comedy Suburgatory also off to a promising start and likely to get a back order and the network’s high-profile Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing slated to launch Tuesday, there could be as many as six freshman comedy series given full-season orders this season on all four major networks. And the genre’s momentum will likely continue next season: Comedy’s hot fall was preceded by an even hotter summer, in which comedy pitches were flying fast and furious, often sparking bidding wars and landing big commitments.

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