Sam Bee's New Show Scored Stronger Ratings on Adult Swim Than its Home on TBS

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Making headlines not just for its generally well-regarded debut, but for its status as the only female-led late night show presently on TV, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee has given us yet another reason to keep the show on our radar.

It’s rare, but not unique that a series produced for one network gets simulcast on its sister networks, outside of any syndication deal. What is unique is the show performing better on a sister network than on its home channel. And according to the program’s Monday night ratings, The Daily Show veteran’s first half-hour comedic take on today’s biggest social and political news has done just that.

A reported 2.2 million viewers tuned in to Full Frontal, which premiered at 10:30 p.m. on four separate Turner networks. Of that audience, 1 million—nearly half—of its viewers came from Adult Swim. To put that in perspective, the channel that began as alternative, late night programming for Cartoon Network drew 400,000 more viewers than TBS, home of late night’s Conan.

Not surprisingly, the show also performed better in the 18-49 demographic on Adult Swim, bringing in 570,000 viewers from the younger-skewing network. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee scored 1.2 million viewers total across networks in the golden ad-rate demo. The show’s airings on TNT and truTV earned 402,000 and 142,000 viewers, respectively. It makes one wonder what the home network should have been all along.

Bee’s successful solo debut into late night comedy becomes even more interesting to examine from a scheduling and staffing standpoint. Her show, which managed to secure a writers room that’s half female and 30% non-white based on a blind hiring process, is technically not late night by time slot standards. Its 10:30 p.m. broadcast leaves it on the cusp of primetime and late night but stacks it head-to-head with primetime viewing on broadcast and cable. The show also follows a weekly versus nightly format, reminiscent of Bee’s Daily Show roots.

During last month’s TCA’s, the comedian told reporters that her weekly, late night series is taking “stories we don’t think receive enough attention and stab them with the hot poker of comedy.”

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