2000-01 Sitcom Scorecard -- New Milestone as FOX is 3rd in Sitcoms for the First Time, New Low as ABC Comedies Sink to 4th

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Written Surviving The Reality Crunch by Bridger Cunningham

What a difference a millennium makes.  NBC dominance was no more, as they were now 2nd in both overall network ratings and in sitcoms.  That 1st place gold standard now belonged to CBS, who not only formed an alliance with Survivor, but also cultivated a rock-solid Monday comedy block, anchored by Everybody Loves Raymond, Becker and the King of Queens.  Must See TV on NBC Thursdays was still strong, yet their fortunes failed to move beyond that evening.  ABC, briefly in 1st place the previous season, plummeted back to 3rd after Who Wants to be a Millionaire faded due to saturation.  Their sitcom fortunes fell harder as they lost 17% of their viewers, falling over one whole point below a resurgent FOX's 27% gain.  FOX of course was still 4th in overall ratings, yet their new brand of sitcoms pushed into 3rd with strong ratings.  And legions below (nearly 2 full points behind 'the big four), UPN experienced a resurgence and nipped at WB's heels late 90's prominence faded.

2000-01 held 54 sitcoms like the previous season, yet placement in the top-10 and top-20 showed tastes were changing as only 6 shows reached the top-20.  NBC's Friends was aging in its 7th season, yet the breakout star was Will and Grace, who passed an ailing Frasier's 8th season, which fell below Just Shoot Me's 5th season.  These four shows proved to be the peacock's winners while only one other show survived among the 11 entries.  3rd Rock From the Sun also ended a successful 6-season run with dwindling CBS enjoyed the popularity of Everybody Loves Raymond, which bolstered its Monday evening.  Coming up in popularity was Kevin James and Leah Remini vehicle King of Queens, and Becker and Yes, Dear rode the lead-in wave.  Outside these four entries, CBS sent the other three failures to the farm.

Like CBS, FOX also had 7 original sitcoms, yet they gave double airings to That 70's Show and Malcolm in the Middle which counted into the figures as they aired multiple showings.  Family Guy took a noticeable absence this season as it was renewed, yet did not return until July 11, 2001.  Elsewhere, The Simpsons, Titus, King of the Hill and Grounded for Life all experienced respectable ratings.  Futurama trailed, yet held the Sunday 7pm timeslot and improved performance.  ABC failed to generate hits this season, and its two leading sitcoms, Dharma and Greg and Drew Carey, dropped below the top 30 and began to show their age.  Spin City's fortunes were mixed in the wake of Charlie Sheen replacing Michael J. Fox, and My Wife and Kids debuted tepid.  Beyond that, most freshman sitcoms ended their runs, along with Norm and Two Guys and a Girl well below the syndication finish line.

Remember UPN and WB?  They are becoming a distant memory.  They recycled several shows, including The Hughleys, For Your Love, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and The PJ's this season with renewals.  UPN parted with its successful Moesha after six seasons, yet had The Parkers and Girlfriends gaining attention.  Beyond that, let's try to remember which shows wound up cancelled.  This year of declines sadly foreshadowed the state of sitcoms in the 2000's, as the audiences wanted to form alliances with reality TV.

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