A common refrain among the Hollywood crowd is that entertainment must be “edgy” or “push the envelope” of taste or appropriateness to gain an audience and be successful. As we at the PTC like to point out, that is very often the opposite of reality – and viewership numbers are the proof of that.
Over the past few days, CBS and ABC have aired episodes of long-time favorites, I Love Lucy and A Charlie Brown Christmas, and both were notably successful.
As Marc Berman at TV Media Insights put it:
“In the specials department, the second annual “I Love Lucy” Christmas Special on CBS, featuring colorized editions of the Christmas episode and the classic “Job Switching” scored a solid 6.2/ 9 in the overnights from 8-9 p.m. (out of an 8.3/13 for “60 Minutes” from 7-8 p.m.). Comparably, that was seven percent above last year’s telecast (5.8/11 on Friday 12/20/13, featuring the Christmas episode and “Lucy’s Italian Movie”). And that translated into 8.71 million viewers and a 1.4 rating/5 share among adults 18-49, based on the Live Plus Same Day data.”
In other words, CBS got nearly 9 million viewers for a sitcom that’s nearly 50 years old.
Over on ABC, audiences still flocked to A Charlie Brown Christmas, despite ABC’s unfortunate airing of sex-soaked Scandal immediately following It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. ABC garnered 6.75 million total viewers for this year’s installment.
Even NBC got in on the act, with its live Peter Pan special getting 9.1 million viewers last Thursday.
Now, some will say that I’m not comparing apples-to-apples, and that’s partially true since this is a broadcast vs. cable comparison, but what deserves illustration is the fact that family-friendly material almost always grabs a bigger audience than more explicit fare.
Take note, Hollywood.