Record Lows for NBC’s Tuesday Night Lineup

Go On, The New Normal, Smash falter; CW’s Cult DOA

NBC continues to struggle without its hit musical competition series The Voice, as the lack of a reliable anchor is suffocating the rest of the Tuesday night lineup.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, NBC’s 9-11 p.m. series last night all fell to record ratings lows, a development that throws into relief how lost the network seems to be without The Voice.

At 9 p.m., the freshman Matthew Perry comedy Go On dropped to 3.3 million total viewers and a 1.1 among adults 18-49, marking a 15 percent decline in the demo versus the previous original episode.

The importance of a huge lead-in becomes apparent upon examining live-same-day ratings for the first 10 episodes of Go On versus the five subsequent installments. With The Voice leading the way from Sept. 11 to Dec. 4, Go On averaged 6.93 million viewers and a respectable 2.5 in the dollar demo; without Cee Lo and the gang, the comedy plummeted 44 percent to an average delivery of 4 million viewers and a 1.4 rating.

Like all Tuesday night prime time shows, Go On suffered from an unusual number of interruptions, riding the pine nine times during the 2012-13 season. The show was pre-empted twice by election activity, once by a natural disaster (Hurricane Sandy) and was sidelined a week ago by President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Never as robust as Go On, Ryan Murphy’s The New Normal has also seen its ratings steadily dwindle. After bowing to 6.96 million viewers and a 2.5 in the demo in its time slot premiere, the comedy last night bottomed out with a draw of 2.8 million viewers and a 0.9 rating.

Also staggering badly is the sophomore musical drama Smash, which hit a series low with 3.29 million viewers and a 0.9 in the guaranteed demo. This marks a 25 percent decline from an already devastating 1.2 in its premiere two weeks ago.

Discounting an Oct. 2 clip show, the Tuesday night installments of The Voice delivered an average audience of 11.8 million viewers and a 4.2 in the demo. As a placeholder, Geriatric Punk’d (aka Betty White’s Off Their Rockers) last night drew 4.64 million viewers and a 1.4 rating.

With more than a month before The Voice returns for its spring cycle (March 25), things aren’t going to get any easier for Go On and The New Normal in the near term. That said, comedy cannibalization in the 9-10 p.m. slot has been abated somewhat, as ABC has placed Happy Endings on hiatus until March 29 (whereupon it will take up residence on Friday nights), a decision made shortly after the network canceled Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23

Tuesday functions as a nifty microcosm of the entire broadcast season, as shows like Fox’s New Girl suffer maddening fluctuations—after two weeks of delivering a 2.6 in the demo, last night’s episode fell to a 2.2—while the remaining newcomers continue to take on water. After climbing to a season-high 1.9 on Feb. 14, Fox’s The Mindy Project slumped to a 1.6. Meanwhile, CBS’s 10 p.m. period drama Vegas saw overall deliveries sink to 9.52 million viewers and a 2.3 in its guaranteed 25-54 demo, matching a series low.

Given that it’s propped up by two of scripted TV’s biggest reach vehicles—NCIS last night scared up 21.1 million viewers, while spinoff NCIS: Los Angeles drew 16.3 million—the pricey Vegas appears increasingly unlikely to earn itself a renewal.

Lastly, one of the season’s few remaining series premieres was dead on arrival, as the CW’s Cult bowed to 860,000 viewers and a 0.2 in the 18-34 demo. By comparison, former time slot occupant Emily Owens, M.D., on Feb. 5 closed up shop in front of 1.5 million viewers and a 0.5 in the network’s target demo.

Through the first 21 weeks of the season, CBS leads the pack with 12.6 million viewers, a 4.1 in the 25-54 demo and a 3.1 among the 18-49 set. NBC is averaging a 2.7 in the dollar demo, flat versus a year ago, while Fox is down 24 percent (2.5) and ABC is off 12 percent (2.2).