'Engvall' bow another TBS cable coup


On the heels of its record-setting premiere for the comedy series "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," TBS has scored again with the debut of the original sitcom "The Bill Engvall Show."

"Engvall" averaged 3.9 million viewers in its debut at 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to Nielsen Media Research. That makes it the No. 3 most-watched telecast ever of an original sitcom on basic cable, behind only the first two episodes of "Payne."

It also drew 2.1 million in the adults 25-54 demographic (ranking No. 3 among all original sitcom telecasts on basic cable) and 1.9 million in adults 18-49 (ranking No. 4 all time).

"Engvall" also more than doubled the performance of its lead-in, the off-net sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," which averaged 1.9 million total viewers, 888,000 viewers in 18-49 and 944,000 in 25-54.

Michael Wright, senior vp of the recently reorganized and renamed Content Creation Group at TNT, TBS and TCM, said he was pleased with the numbers and gave credit to Engvall and Michael Leeson for creating a "charming, big-hearted show."

"This is an incredibly well-crafted show," he said. "They're not trying to reinvent television ... but they are trying to do something that's really well made and puts a smile on your face, and it seems as if people recognized that and gave the show a chance. I'm so proud of them for pulling it off."

"Engvall" stars Engvall, Nancy Travis, Jennifer Lawrence, Graham Patrick Martin and Skyler Gisondo as a family who lives in a Denver suburb. Tim Meadows and Steve Hytner co-star.

Wright also praised the TBS production team, including Mark Taylor, head of production on the series, and noted that this is the network's first comedy produced in-house; TBS' Very Funny Prods. is producing with Welladay Inc. and Parallel Entertainment.

TBS first entered the original comedy series arena last year with "My Boys," which returns July 30, and the late-night series "10 Items or Less," which returns next year. Both are produced by Sony Pictures Television.

"Payne," a first-run syndicated comedy, debuted with back-to-back episodes June 6, drawing 5.2 million total viewers for the first episode at 9 p.m. episode and 5.8 million at 9:30 p.m. Most recently, "Payne" averaged 2.3 million and 2.4 million total viewers at 9 and 9:30 p.m., respectively, last week. Through July 11, "Payne" is averaging 3.2 million total viewers for all first-run episodes and 1.7 million in each of the two adult demos.