Keeping an Eye on ‘According to Jim’

Jan 5, 2004  •  Post A Comment

ABC’s hit sitcom “According to Jim” has frequently made fun of the habits of males, but it’s those habits that Buena Vista executives are counting on as the show prepares to enter the syndication marketplace.
Now in its third time slot in as many years, “Jim” continues to pay dividends for the network. Currently on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m., “Jim” is delivering some of the strongest numbers seen by ABC in years, particularly among men. And that’s exactly what Buena Vista Television President Janice Marinelli is counting on to help launch the series in fall 2006.
“In syndication, it’s the male-skewing shows that drive the marketplace,” Ms. Marinelli said. “The `Home Improvements,’ `Seinfelds’ and `Everybody Loves Raymonds’ all provided strong series for the marketplace. `Jim’ is no different and boasts a similar track record of time period performance.”
Since moving to Wednesdays, the series has increased ratings performance in the time period by almost 60 percent with men. It is now outperforming NBC staple “Frasier” in most audience segments. Ms. Marinelli hopes to take that success to the stations.
Although she has been sending out one-sheets and talking with clients about their concerns and questions since the show’s launch two years ago, stations expect the teasing to step up dramatically at this month’s National Association of Television Program Executives convention. Sales would likely begin this summer. Station reps are paying attention even while series such as “Seinfeld” and “Raymond” are readying for renewals.
“This show is coming out at a unique time, and of the group of shows available for that year, `According to Jim’ probably has the most legs,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of group programming at Katz Media. “It’s especially been helped by its solid performance that last season or two in the 9 p.m. slot. However, it will have to overcome the stigma that it is not a watercooler show. But we see the show as having merit.”
Buena Vista sales executives have been busy with ABC’s refocus on sitcoms in recent years. The syndicator sold “My Wife and Kids” to Tribune last year while “8 Simple Rules” and now “Hope and Faith” are just around the corner.

Lloyd Komesar, senior VP of strategic research at Buena Vista, agrees that it’s the men who are poised to set “Jim” apart from the competition, especially in an era when studios are lamenting the loss of the male demographic in ratings. Because of this, the company is pushing especially hard for those coveted access time periods.
Compared to `Raymond’
“Looking at the broad-based appeal of the show, it is the male distinguishing demographic that will propel `Jim’ and set it apart,” he said. “That male appeal is broad-based, balanced and growing, which only makes it more valuable in syndication. We see this as a great 6 to 8 p.m. show, which could be a solid companion for `Raymond’ because it has a strong ensemble cast led by a blue-collar male lead.”
In fact, executives are comparing the series to `Raymond,’ which was the last blow-away hit offered in an off-net cycle. But one question that must be overcome is whether station consolidation will make sales more difficult.
“The market is hard and business is very difficult, especially with off-net shows,” said Ms. Marinelli. “In effect, our sales options in some of the major markets have shrunk from three to two. But in the end a successful show is what should drive the marketplace, and there will be no more successful series available that year than `Jim.”’