Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Management' Suffers Another Sharp Ratings Drop

Anger Management Charlie Sheen Jail - H 2012

Anger Management Charlie Sheen Jail - H 2012

Overall viewership has declined from 5.7 million for its premiere to 2.4 million in week three.

Charlie Sheen's Anger Management ratings aren't on a winning streak.

Viewership for Thursday's episode—the fourth of a planned ten-episode season—dropped to 2.4 million viewers from 3.4 million last week. That slide comes on top of a steep 40 percent decline in ratings from the 5.7 million viewers who tuned in to the second of two premiere episodes June 28 on the FX Network.

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The ratings, while still strong for a cable comedy series, indicate that the huge number of people that sampled the Debmar Mercury-distributed show initially are not returning.

"It’s not surprising that you're going to see some decline because of all the publicity that built up to the first episode," notes media analyst Bill Carroll. But, he adds, "if it continues to unfortunately decline by significant percentages, especially in the key demo, that could mean the audience is truly onto something."

Anger Management premiered with strong ratings among both men and women in the key 18 to 49 year old audience. But now the sitcom is off 23 percent from the prior week among 18-to-49 year old men, a key audience component. Total 18-49 viewership was down 27 percent from the third episode to the fourth episode to 1.25 million.

There is some good news. Anger Management did improve on its lead-in in its third week by 39 percent. It also remains ahead for the first four episodes by 77 percent compared to what was in the same time period on FX last year.

There are six more episodes left before FX has to decide whether to green light an additional 90 episodes; that decision would trigger sales to international outlets that have signed up for the show.

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The question is where and when the ratings numbers will level off, because that may well be the real indicator of the appeal. "If it can find its level and it does better than its lead-in or what was in that time period a year ago, then it could have a positive influence on the ultimate decision" to pick it up, notes Carroll.

A source close to the show says FX will not make any decisions until it sees how all ten episodes perform.