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


  1. John N.

    Does anyone know if WGN-TV Channel 9 actually makes money by running the CW prime time schedule? It seems to me Channel 9 would have been better off scheduling a syndicated offering like “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” weeknights instead of the CW, where most of the CW shows are all geared towards female teens and are all about spoiled rich kids. I miss the days of WGN’s old prime time movies or when “Solid Gold” was on Monday nights.

  2. C

    John N., I too would assume that WGN would make more by going with syndicated programming during prime-time than airing the CW. There have been numerous instances where WGN have pushed CW programming to the graveyard shift so that they could air Cubs or Bulls games. Although I believe “House of Payne” would be more profitable to WGN than “Gossip Girl”, it might not be practical to drop the network affiliation because there isn’t enough syndicated programming around to fill the hours that the CW fills.

  3. T Dog

    All good points, and if CW ever goes away, it could be a good option for Tribune stations – that is, if it ever gets out of Chapter 11. It’s worked before – “Solid Gold” was originally part of “Operation Prime Time”, a project of TPE owner Al Mansini and Paramount, providing prime-time programming to indie stations in those pre-Fox, UPN, and WB days. (I also watched “Solid Gold” on WGN back in the day and caught it every week – that is until it moved to WFLD-TV in 1984 and didn’t get to catch it again until it moved to WPWR-TV a few years later.)

    And don’t forget PTEN,or the Prime-Time Entertainment Network, which Chris-Craft/United stations (owners of WWOR in N.Y. and KCOP in L.A.) and WPWR partnered with Warner Bros. in the early 1990’s, and gave us “Babylon 5” and “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues”.

    Phil Rosenthal’s column last spring had a blurb on WGN’s airing of its 60th anniversary special on a Sunday night – and it made more money than CW’s regular Sunday night lineup (before it was briefly outsourced to Media Rights Capital), and everyone in the industry noticed.

  4. John N.

    Yes, I too regularly watched "Solid Gold" each week on WGN-TV until it moved to WFLD-TV (a move I was totally disappointed in because I recalled the intense rivalry between the two stations back then for syndicated programs). I also enjoyed the various mini-series that OPT (Operation Prime Time) presented throughout the years. I believe "Solid Gold" was its only regularly scheduled weekly series. I even recall for short periods of time WGN-TV aired "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" and "Star Search" in prime time, though mostly they aired on Sunday mornings. I even remember when WGN-TV had success with running original episodes of "Hee Haw," "The Lawrence Welk Show," and "The Bobby Vinton Show" on Sunday nights–I admit to watching them too with my parents. Also, Channel 9 had "Wild Kingdom" and "In Search Of…" in prime time on weekends. At least all those shows were good clean family entertainment, very much lacking today. Now that I think about it while looking back, it seems there was more creativity on TV back then.

  5. TaffyApple

    BUFFOONERY and GARBAGE television. Strictly for the MINDLESS!!