Ratings debate: Has Fox’s comedy block hurt ‘New Girl’ in a big way?

Is anyone smiling now?

When Fox decided to put together a two-hour comedy block on Tuesday with “Glee” on hiatus, we have a feeling they didn’t expect it to go this badly. Unless something miraculous manages to happen when the gang from McKinley High comes back on TV, they may have botched the first-season launch of the funniest new comedy around in “New Girl.”

If you thought back to the premiere for the show in September (where it drew an incredible 4.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic and over 10 million viewers), you thought it had certified hit written all over it. It started to drop steadily (as all shows do after the premiere), but once “Glee” went off and Fox decided to move on with new episodes without it the numbers really started to plummet. Its current lead-in is a repeat of “Raising Hope,” and Tuesday night’s new episode scored a decent (at least for Fox comedy standards, but not for this show) 2.3 rating and 4.6 million viewers. Outside of the aberration that is “Two and a Half Men’s” debut with Ashton Kutcher, it’s hard to think of another comedy series to start this season with a 4.0+ and be sitting where it is now.

We all know that “New Girl” is still going to be back for another season, but here’s the reason question — what do we blame for the ratings drop?

1. Competition – The show is up against two programs that qualify as “event television” — the results shows for “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Voice.” Then, add to that the monster that is “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

2. No “Glee” – We’ve already covered this, but it’s worth repeating — freshman series need time to develop and audience, and without a high-rated show before it as a lead-in, this can be difficult.

3. DVRs – “New Girl” is quickly becoming a favorite of people using their DVRs, and we understand why since it’s something that can be watched at any point and still be relevant. Unfortunately, people fail to realize sometimes that recording all the scripted shows hurts the scripted medium as a whole.

4. Quality – We wonder if some people are complaining that the show isn’t funny anymore, but we actually disagree — “New Girl” has improved by leaps and bounds since the premiere. Not only are Schmidt and Nick fantastic characters, but Zooey Deschanel’s Jess is far more human and far less “female Sheldon Cooper in terms of quirkiness” like we saw in the pilot.

What do you think is hurting “New Girl” the most?

Photo: Fox

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