NBC this week kicked the tires on its first Monday night comedy launch in 15 years, and while "Superstore" isn't likely to make anyone forget the likes of "Will & Grace," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" or even "ALF," early sampling of the program was encouraging.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the first two installments of "Superstore" delivered 6.28 million viewers and a 1.8 rating in the adults 18-49 demo, putting up NBC's biggest comedy numbers since "Undateable" bowed last March to 6.43 million viewers and a 1.9 demo. (In what amounts to NBC's lightest sitcom load in the modern TV era, the Peacock thus far this season has broadcast just seven hours of comedy, of which six aired on its low-impact Friday night schedule.)
The "Superstore" pilot aired out of "The Voice" in the 10 p.m. slot, where it delivered 7.21 million viewers and a 2.0 rating. This marked the best result for a half-hour scripted comedy on NBC since Oct. 14, 2014, when "Marry Me" bowed to 7.54 million viewers and a 2.3 demo. The premiere episode retained 71% of its lead-in demo (2.8).
The 10:30 p.m. installment of "Superstore" dragged down the average a bit, slipping 20% to 5.35 million viewers and a 1.6 demo.
Top sponsors in the "Superstore" block included JPMorgan Chase, the Pfizer rheumatoid arthritis medication Xeljanz, Amazon Kindle, Best Buy and Cricket Wireless. Also advertising in the hour was LucasFilm, which aired a promo for its upcoming "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace." (With just a few weeks to go before the film takes over the multiplex, LucasFilm has spent relatively few dollars on national TV. Per iSpot.tv estimates, the studio's total TV allocation since Jan. 1 adds up to just over $16.2 million.)
The average price for 30 seconds of airtime in "Superstore" was around $115,000, which works out to a 43% discount when compared with the $210,000 unit cost "Blindspot" commanded in the upfront.
"Superstore" reaped the benefits of a special one-hour premiere leading out of NBC's No. 2-rated show. (On hiatus until February 29, regular time slot occupant "Blindspot" is averaging 8.34 million viewers and a 2.3 in the 18-49 demo.) "Superstore" will move into its Monday 8 p.m. slot on Jan. 4, where it will set up fellow newbie "Telenovela." Formerly titled "Hot & Bothered," Eva Longoria's spoof of Spanish-language soap operas arrives in a special preview next Monday. As was the case with "Superstore," "Telenovela" will bow out of "The Voice" before returning in 2016.
While "Superstore" faced very little in the way of scripted competition -- across the dial, the only two first-run alternatives Monday at 10 p.m. were FX's "Fargo" (0.4) and TNT's "Legends" (0.1) -- that will not be the case when it and "Telenovela" assume their regular time slots. CBS's "Supergirl" lies in wait at 8-9 p.m., and Fox's much-anticipated "X Files" miniseries is set to overlap the NBC comedies between Jan. 25 and Feb. 22.
The last time NBC carved out some time for comedy on its Monday night roster was back in the 2000-01 TV season, when the Michael Chiklis family sitcom "Daddio" led into the equally short-lived "Tucker." Both shows averaged a [relatively] paltry 2.6 in the demo; by way of comparison, erstwhile Monday comedy "Will & Grace" that same season averaged a 9.4 among the 18-49 set.
Regardless of how the new comedies fare in the terra incognita that is NBC's Monday schedule, the experiment will come to a close on Feb. 29, when "The Voice" returns for its tenth cycle. Meanwhile, NBC has yet to firm up the launch sequences for two other freshman comedies ("Crowded," "You, Me and the Apocalypse"). The former project is a multi-cam produced by the creators of "Hot in Cleveland," while the latter is a U.K.-USA collaboration starring NBC Thursday night alumni Rob Lowe, Jenna Fisher and Megan Mullally.