Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

RG asks the age-old question: "Can you tell me why studios/networks think we still need a laugh track? The cold opening of 'Roseanne' had maybe one good joke in it, but the laughs never stopped. The 'Will & Grace' reboot also seemed dated with the laugh track. Is there a reason they think we still need to be told when to laugh? For me it makes me turn the channel right away."
I honestly don't think that networks believe they need to tell you when to laugh. Most sitcoms with a "laugh track" are filmed in front of an audience, and the laughter is often (but not always) real. The response of the live audience is part of the viewing experience. Over my years in the business, I attended many tapings of comedies, and you would be surprised at the amount of honest, real laughter that goes on. Sure, there is someone, generally a comedian, who keeps the crowd revved up since a taping can go on for a few hours, but for civilians coming to a taping (often of a favorite show), they are legitimately invested in what's going on.
I always saw comedies as theater where the audience is part of the show. Dramas felt more like cinema to me. I think what happened is the line between comedy and drama on television has vanished to some extent. With the rise of dramedies, sadadies, warmedies and comamas, several half-hours are often a hybrid of the two forms. The balance has shifted to the single-cam (laugh track-free) over the multi-cam, but single-cam shows have always been a part of the comedy landscape. I lovingly remember "Frank's Place" on CBS, which I’m pretty certain did not have a laugh track and was one of the funniest shows on at the time.
For many people a laugh track is not an annoyance, and I don't think it's a coincidence that to this day, the top-rated comedies are multi-cam. Even FOX, which likes to still think it's an edgy network, has had more success in live-action comedies with multi-cams a la "Married with Children" and "That '70s Show."
One final point: The audience can really energize a performance. Over the years characters like Jack and Karen on "Will & Grace," the Fonz on "Happy Days" and Cosmo Kramer on "Seinfeld" have taken the show to the next level when they enter the scene and the audience affirmation adds to the enjoyment.
Sorry you feel how you do about laughter on comedies. It's not going away, and with the recent move toward reboots, expect more multi-cams.
On a side note, I hope FOX renews "The Resident" for a second season. Putting aside the issues (not insignificant) with what will the network become after the proposed sale of most of 21st Century Fox, this is a solid medical drama that has held a consistent rating through its run on Monday night. Along with "9-1-1," if FOX can come out of this season with two mainstream dramas, that would be a good thing moving forward.
Questions or comments can go to or @maskedscheduler on the Twitter.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Monday, April 16, 2018

The numbers for Monday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Voice (NBC) (8-10 p.m.) 1.7/7 9.23
American Idol (ABC) (8-10 p.m.) 1.3/5 6.85
Kevin Can Wait (CBS) 0.9/4 5.29
Lucifer (FOX) 0.7/3 3.17
Supergirl (The CW) 0.5/2 1.90
8:30 p.m. Man with a Plan (CBS) 0.8/3 5.09
9 p.m. The Resident (FOX) 0.9/3 4.29
Superior Donuts (CBS) 0.8/3 4.52
iZombie (The CW) 0.3/1 0.85
9:30 p.m. Living Biblically (CBS) 0.6/2 3.54
10 p.m. Good Girls (NBC) 1.0/4 4.45
Scorpion (CBS) – F 0.7/3 5.12
The Crossing (ABC) 0.7/3 4.17


“Supergirl” returned from a two-month hiatus Monday to slightly lower ratings. But it also provided an uptick in the 8 p.m. timeslot for The CW and helped “iZombie” improve week to week.

“Supergirl” earned a 0.5 rating in adults 18-49, down from 0.6 for its last episode in February. It was up, however, from “Legends of Tomorrow’s” 0.4 last week. “iZombie” scored a 0.3, up from 0.2 a week ago.

“The Voice” helped NBC win the night with a 1.7, down 0.2 vs. last week. “Good Girls” was steady at 1.0. “American Idol” (1.3) also fell 0.2 on ABC, while “The Crossing” slipped a tenth to 0.7.

“The Resident” held steady at 0.9 (its last episode was March 26) on FOX, but “Lucifer” dropped a tenth to 0.7. “Scorpion” closed out its season with a 0.7 on CBS, even with last week. “Man with a Plan” slipped a tenth to 0.8, but CBS’ other comedies were steady.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.5/6 1.1/4 0.8/3 0.7/3 0.4/2
Total Viewers (millions) 7.64 5.96 3.73 4.78 1.38


Late-night metered market ratings (adults 18-49, households):

11:35 p.m.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.7/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.4/2, 2.6/7

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.4/2, 1.7/5

12:35 a.m.

“Nightline”: 0.2/2, 1.1/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/2, 1.0/4

“Late Night with Seth Meyers” – R: 0.2/2, 0.9/3


Rating: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.
Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings are available at approximately 11 a.m. ET the day after telecast. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. 
Share (of Audience): 
The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. 
Time Shifted Viewing:
 Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live +Same-Day and Live +7 Day. Time-shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs. Live+SD includes viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3 a.m. local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live +7 ratings include  viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

Source: The Nielsen Company.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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