TBS Rescues ‘Cougar Town’

Cable net orders 15 episodes of Courteney Cox comedy

After being unceremoniously dumped by ABC, Cougar Town has been fetched from the ashes by cable network TBS.

The Turner network ordered a fourth season of 15 episodes, with an eye toward a premiere in early 2013. In addition to the new batch, TBS has also picked up the off-network rights to the 61 episodes that were shot for ABC.

Cougar Town is a smart, whimsical sitcom that draws its humor from likable, relatable characters,” said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies, by way of announcing the acquisition. “We are thrilled to have [it].”

While financial terms were not disclosed, it’s unlikely that TBS paid anywhere near the $1.5 million per episode it shelled out in 2010 for The Big Bang Theory

An ensemble comedy starring Courteney Cox, Busy Philipps and Christa Miller, Cougar Town endured a peripatetic existence on ABC. In its second season, the show was sidelined for two months to make room for the disappointing Matthew Perry sitcom, Mr. Sunshine, and after a seven-episode run it was not included in the fall 2012 schedule.

When Cougar Town eventually returned for its third season, it was relegated to a midseason premiere and a tough Tuesday 8:30 p.m. time slot, where it went up against the likes of NCIS, Glee, The Biggest Loser and 90210. It also lost its powerhouse Modern Family lead-in.

Season to date, Cougar Town is averaging 4.54 million total viewers and a 1.4 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demo, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data.

TBS now derives its highest ratings from the off-net sitcom The Big Bang Theory, which it airs as many as 16 times per week. For the week that ended May 6, the most-watched installment of TBBT drew 3.32 million viewers Tuesday night at 10:30 p.m.

While no one expects Cougar Town to put together those kind of numbers, the show could prove to be a good fit for one of the upcoming TBS original comedies. Among these are: Men at Work, starring Danny Masterson; the Vince Vaughn-produced Sullivan & Son; and Wedding Band, an ensemble starring Brian Austin Green, Harold Perrineau and Melora Hardin.

Cougar Town is produced by ABC Studios. According to series creator Bill Lawrence, each episode of Cougar Town costs $2 million to produce.

Lawrence has some past network-hopping experience; in 2008, his single-camera comedy Scrubs jumped to ABC after being canceled by NBC.