Seth MacFarlane’s dominance over Fox’s “Animation Domination” lineup is on the wane. Just months after the network elected to cancel The Cleveland Show after four seasons, TBS announced that it would begin carrying first-run episodes of MacFarlane’s American Dad following the 2013-14 broadcast season.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
A mainstay of Fox’s Sunday night roster for the last nine seasons, American Dad premiered in the plum post-Super Bowl spot on Feb. 6, 2005. The series opener averaged 15.1 million viewers and a 7.5 in the adults 18-49 demo.
While American Dad doesn’t deliver huge ratings, the show did well enough to earn a final renewal on Fox. Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, AD last season averaged 4.29 million viewers and a 2.1 in the dollar demo. By comparison, MacFarlane’s flagship program, Family Guy, drew 5.42 million viewers and a 2.7 rating, while the unsinkable Simpsons averaged 5.41 million viewers and a 2.5 in the demo.
AD also lagged behind its fellows in terms of its relative value to advertisers. Buyers estimate that the average 30-second spot on the show fetched around $160,000 a pop whereas The Simpsons and Family Guy commanded prices in the $280,000-$300,000 range.
If MacFarlane’s Sunday night presence will be diminished—a planned revival of The Flintstones was scrapped a year ago—he hasn’t exactly been banished from Fox. Family Guy is guaranteed a Sunday night time slot through 2014, and his first live-action TV comedy, Dads, is set to bow on Sept. 17. Along with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, he is also prepping a reboot of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.
Given the success of his first venture into film, it’s likely that MacFarlane in the coming years may devote less time to the small screen. His 2012 comedy Ted grossed $218.8 million stateside and racked up another $330.6 million in foreign markets.
A sequel to Ted is expected to hit theaters in April 2015.
Turner currently airs repeats of AD on TBS and Adult Swim. The show puts up particularly robust numbers on the latter network; last week, AD drew 2.39 million viewers on Tuesday night (10:30 p.m.) and another 2.35 million on Thursday.
Adult Swim recently began airing repeats of Fox’s Bob’s Burgers and has had the rights to repurpose The Cleveland Show since 2010.
“American Dad is a great fit for TBS, a favorite of comedy fans who like smart, irreverent humor with ample doses of biting wit and skewering satire,” said Michael Wright, president and head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies. “We look forward to welcoming Seth MacFarlane and the rest of his team as they bring this iconic show to TBS.”
New episodes of AD will begin appearing in the TBS prime-time lineup in late 2014.
TBS recently bailed out another broadcast comedy, rescuing ABC’s Cougar Town from the wrecking ball after its third season. The cable net has committed to a fifth helping of the Courteney Cox vehicle, ordering an additional 13 episodes. Cougar Town has been a modest hit for TBS, averaging 1.93 million viewers and ranking 15th in the dollar demo on Tuesday nights.