Baby It’s You: Up All Night Off to a Strong Start

NBC’s Arnett/Applegate comedy puts up big premiere numbers

Sexual intercourse may be the leading cause of babies, but for NBC, the two don’t necessarily go together.

NBC on Sept. 14 premiered its new Wednesday night comedy block, taking the wraps off the Will Arnett-Christina Applegate parental-anxiety sitcom, Up All Night, and Hank Azaria’s workplace sex farce, Free Agents. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Up All Night got off to a promising start, drawing 11 million viewers and notching a 3.7 rating/10 share among adults 18-49.

While there will be some adjustment to the early numbers once all precincts report in, from a directional standpoint, Arnett and Applegate appear to have hit it off with viewers. The demos for the series opener were 54 percent stronger than the first half-hour of Outlaw, which premiered in the Tuesday 10 p.m. slot a year ago.

Whereas Up All Night is a lighthearted look at the disruptive forces of babydom, Free Agents is about life on the other side of the relationship spectrum. A chronicle of that special kind of loneliness/despair/desperation that drives people to boink their co-workers, the premiere riffed on everything from solitary drinking to deceased fiancés.

The tonal shift from baby to bathos may have sent viewers scrambling for the Cymbalta. Free Agents dropped 44 percent in the lead-out slot, averaging 6.12 million viewers and a 2.1/6 in the key adult demo.

Unfortunately, it will only get more difficult from here, as both comedies will move into their respective 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. time slots next week. There, they will go head-to-head with The X Factor performance show on Fox, Survivor: Nicaragua on CBS, and the lead-off to ABC’s comedy block. The Middle kicks off the night at 8 p.m., followed by the new series Suburgatory at 8:30 p.m.

Also in a tough spot is the CW’s new reality series, H8R, which premiered to 1.29 million viewers and drew an 0.6/2 in the demo. H8R delivered less than half the 2.88 million viewers (1.3/4 demo) who tuned in to the season premiere of America’s Next Top Model on Sept. 8, 2010.

According to Networked Insights research, H8R was one of the most maligned new programs of the fall season, earning mostly negative early impressions on various social media platforms. Only the Fox sitcom I Hate My Teenage Daughter and ABC’s Bosom Buddies v. 2.0 (aka, Work It) fared worse.

Hosted by Mario Lopez, H8R invites young people to rant and rave about the celebrities they most detest, upon which they are ambushed by the object of their disaffection. The star/media curiosity––the premiere H8R roster consisted of Jersey Shore’s Snooki and ex-Bachelor Jake Pavelka—then attempts to interact with the venom-spewing “hater,” with an eye toward change the guest’s perceptions in a positive manner.

If H8R fails to find an audience, the CW still has two more strong at-bats in Hart of Dixie and The Secret Circle, both of which have been the subject of a lot of positive chatter on Twitter. Dixie premieres Monday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m., while Secret bows tonight at 9 p.m.