How’d They Do? Evaluating The Ratings of The Final Seasons of The Good Place and Will & Grace

Welcome to this edition of ‘How’d They Do?’. The final season ratings of NBC shows which ended in the 2019-20 season are evaluated here. Note that this does not include cancelations, but rather shows that were announce to be ending ahead of time.

Credit for the ratings go to Programming Insider. Any missing numbers is a result of them not being reported. Some shows will have a column reflected their viewership in Canada, but numbers are only available for weeks where the show made the top 30. Averages in the Canada column are only visible when the vast majority of episodes have ratings reported.

The Good Place (2016-2020)
The Good Place first burst onto the scene in 2016. The serialized comedy, which is set in an afterlife, proved to be a solid ratings performer for NBC, doing better than most of their other post-Office offerings when taking into account the declines in viewership across the board every season. It also has seemed to find a following on Netflix and Hulu. For its fourth and final season, it was tasked with anchoring NBC’s Thursday 9pm hour. The night has had its ups and downs for them for the past several years, oftentimes with some shows working and others failing. The Good Place started the season airing directly after Perfect Harmony, and directly before the short-lived Sunnyside. On its tenth episode, it made a time slot change back to its usual 8:30 time after Superstore.

For its final season, The Good Place saw sharp declines across the board. Even after moving back
to 8:30, that ugly 0.50 in A18-49 Live + Same Day for the eleventh episode demonstrated that the show was no longer what it once was. On the bright side, it stayed mainly pretty steady throughout the season. This is shown clearly by the subdemos table. The remarkable amount of white is a sign that most ratings hovered around the average, with the occasional fluctuation.

The ratings for the series finale grew from the previous episode in all demos except M18-34, where it matched the previous rating. It didn’t see the bump NBC was probably hoping for when they had a two hour time period blocked off for it, including a Paley Center Salutes before and a special Late Night episode with the cast directly after the finale. However, it could’ve easily gone worse.

It’s tough to look at these ratings and talk about them positively, but it did at least look solid compared to the comedies which surrounded it.

Grade: C

Will & Grace (1998-2006; 2017-2020)
Will & Grace is simply an iconic comedy. At its peak, when it aired behind Friends, it pulled in ratings higher than nearly every other show. It also had a strong social impact, something only some shows can say.

When it lost the Friends lead-in back in the day, its ratings took a huge dive. Still, it returned well for the revival, hitting a 3.0 A18-49 L+SD rating. It fell from there, back down to numbers one would expect when accounting for declines in viewership levels in general.

If there is one thing impressive about these ratings, it’s that the median age rose by 1.02 years. As, yes, a viewer gets one year older for every season, this could be an indicator that it had a stable audience. The year-to-year trends for the demos, though, are harsh. Take for example the 0.1s it received in all 18-34 subdemos for its tenth episode. With eight episodes left in the series at that point, anyone following its ratings would have to hold their breath and hope this iconic show never fell to a 0.0, even if in a demo outside of 18-49.

The dreaded, however, did happen for the series finale: it’s A18-49 L+SD and L+3 ratings both dropped from the previous week. This is a show that, for its 2006 finale, jumped from a 3.6 to an 8.4 in A18-49 L+SD. That was a TV event; this was not.

Canada seemed to be interested in it though, as it was the only episode of the season that cracked Canada’s weekly top 30 list in seven-day viewership. Given the population in Canada is drastically lower than that of the United States, one million viewers is a strong rating. Also, older viewers seemed to have shown some increased interest; with the Households rising to a season high, it’s very possible the A55+ demo saw a big spike. That data is not publicly available, so it is something that can only be speculated.

Overall, this season did provide the value of not being Sunnyside. It didn’t serve much of a purpose outside of that, unless it was huge on digital. While it was nice NBC gave it a pre-announced final season, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of interest.

Grade: D

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