Take a modest show on broadcast and put it on cable. How does it perform by cable standards? Kinda modest.
Despite promising lots of Courteney Cox cleavage, Cougar Town delivered 2.2 million viewers for its TBS premiere last night, with 1.3 million adults 18-49. That’s not bad (the network’s press release, which naturally grades on a curve, called them “solid”). But by comparison, last year’s Sullivan and Sons debuted to 2.5 million viewers and Men at Work debuted to 2.6 million viewers — and those titles didn’t have Cougar Town‘s broad awareness after running for three years on ABC, or a star like Cox to help promote the show.
Basically the numbers are within TBS’ ballpark, but you’d expect this particular title to deliver more viewers. Or maybe not, if you subscribe to the philosophy referenced above — that the popularity of a title remains consistent regardless of the size of its venue. That just because a show moves to an outlet with lower bar for success doesn’t mean it will continue delivering broadcast-level numbers and therefore become a cable hit.