And the number one show in African-American households is…

No surprise here, it’s Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.

But there is a surprise when compared to other programs in the viewer’s landscape: When you take the rating from its’ syndication airings and its cable runs on TBS, Payne tops everything else among African-Americans in all of television among adults 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54, including network prime-time, beating Grey’s Anatomy and The Game.

House of Payne is a big hit here in Chicago, airing on independent WCIU-TV weeknights at 7 and 7:30 p.m. In October, the program outperformed My Network TV programming on WPWR-TV and is competitive with CW programming on WGN-TV [1]. Payne is also strong in other urban markets including Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Charlotte, and Baltimore.

It is the number one show in syndication among African-Americans, topping perennial favorites The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, and Judge Judy. Payne also topped runner-up Family Guy (yes, Family Guy) in prime-time and in syndication among African-American adults 18-34.

In the top 25 list of most-watched cable TV programs among African-Americans the week ending Dec. 7, Payne claimed six of those spots – including the top three.

Payne’s dominance comes as programs featuring mostly African-American casts have faded from the airwaves, thanks mainly from the folding of UPN and WB, which featured such shows.

Last year’s top show in black households (Girlfriends) was unceremoniously dumped by CW, a casualty of the writer’s strike – but would likely would’ve been canceled anyway. The program spent six seasons at UPN before moving to CW for its’ final two seasons.

And the successes come even as the program is salvaged by critics – though a lot of fare usually is and is also popular with audiences. That’s been the case since the beginning of TV. Keep in mind while programs like The Brady Bunch, Full House, and Three’s Company were wildly popular with audiences, they never were with critics, as are current shows Family Guy and Gary Unmarried, among others.

So the next time TBS airs one of those promos claiming House of Payne is the most watched cable sitcom of all-time, don’t scoff: because it’s actually true.

Debmar-Mercury distributes House of Payne in syndication and Twentieth Television handles barter ad sales.

Source: Nielsen, Katz Programming Newsletter Multi-Day Grids, October 2008 [1].

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