Where Did Late-Night Show’s Audience Go?

Oct 31, 2013  •  Post A Comment

The audience for a late-night program appears to have mysteriously vanished. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the stand-up comedy show "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell," which moved in September to FXX after one season on FX, is "barely registering" in the ratings most nights.

"For instance, on Monday, the show drew only 12,000 total viewers at 11 p.m.," Andreeva writes. "Its adults 18-49 delivery was 4,000. In FXX’s target demo of adults 18-34 it averaged 3,000 viewers, while its young adults aged 18-24 audience was so minuscule, it was listed as 0 on the Nielsen charts. To put it in perspective, the second-lowest-rated cable late-night show among adults 18-49 on Monday, ‘The Pete Holmes Show,’ averaged 245,000 in the demo. That’s 61 times ‘Totally Biased‘s’ tally."

Andreeva adds: "In 18-34, the second-lowest-rated program, Bravo’s ‘Watch What Happens Live,’ scored 101,000 viewers, 34 times the viewership of ‘Totally Biased.’"

Some dropoff was anticipated with the move from FX to FXX, which is distributed to 26 million fewer homes than FX, the report notes. Still, "those public access program-level numbers are puzzling as ‘Totally Biased’ was a solid and pretty stable ratings performer on FX," Andreeva writes. "Adding to the head-scratcher is the fact that ‘Totally Biased‘s’ 1 a.m. repeat on Monday night did far better than the 11 p.m. premiere, logging 39,000 total viewers and 27,000 adults 18-49."

The report notes that other than "Totally Biased," FXX carries only one night of originals, on Wednesdays.

"’Totally Biased’ performs better on Wednesdays, following original series ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ and ‘The League,’ drawing an average of 110,000 total viewers, 92,000 adults 18-49 and 64,000 adults 18-34," Andreeva notes in her report. "Still, that is less than a third of the show’s audience on FX in the final leg of its first season (372,000) and half or less of ‘Totally Biased‘s’ 18-49 (236,000) and 18-34 (127,000) Season 1D averages."

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  1. How do they count the number of homes FXX is available in? While FXX is available to us through our provider, it is tied to an extras package with channels that we are not interested in, while FX is part of a package we do subscribe to, Full disclosure – if FX wasn’t “free” we would not subscribe to it either. I watch it, but it has no programming I would go out of my way for.
    Also, isn’t there a chance that FX overestimated the appeal of these shows when they chose them as a foundation for a new pay channel?
    I know it sounds/is cheap, but I am not willing to pay an extra seven or eight bucks a month to get just a couple of shows I somewhat enjoy. Plus, since they still run commercials for revenue, aren’t they actually leaving money on the table when the providers bundle them in an extras package, especially one made up of unrelated channels?

  2. Forgot to add it probably does not help FXX that it can be found, if you remember to look for it, in the upper channels hidden in with the Fox Soccer channels (my provider offers it on channel 619, far, far away from FX, USA, Comedy Central, etc).

  3. “Totally Biased” once a week was an event. “Totally Biased” going up against “The Daily Show” four nights a week is a very uphill battle. “TB” does do some things very well, and offers a point of view not found elsewhere, but it suffers greatly from being on a channel that’s scarce, not to mention one that is doing an inadequate job in the aftermarket (i.e., clips and episodes should be more available online and on demand, and sooner than “eventually”).

  4. Time Warner Cable has them side-by-side, at least in Charlotte.
    The exact demographic they’re trying to appeal to is the exact same demographic watching The Daily Show at 11pm. Did the new season of Totally Biased debut during a period where The Daily Show was in reruns?
    That might explain why their audience suddenly disappeared.

  5. Another issue, possibly, is that unless your cable operator has FXX HD, some, if not most people, may be less likely to watch it. I definitely do not watch any SD channels anymore. Just HD.
    The cable operator I have only added FXX SD after some customers began complaining they could not watch those comedy shows they were used to watching on FX, after they moved. So, we have FXX SD and not FXX HD. I have tried to get them to add it in HD but have been unsuccessful, thus far.

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