Comedy repeats down this summer

'Two and a Half Men,' other Big Four laffers tumble

It may still be going gangbusters in syndication, but veteran comedy “Two and a Half Men” wilted in the ratings with repeats this summer on CBS.

Charlie Sheen’s exit last winter — and the show’s subsequent production shutdown — meant that CBS auds haven’t seen an original episode of the show since mid-February. And the uninterrupted run of repeats has apparently been a turn-off to auds.

A look at the program averages for summer reveals that from Memorial Day to Labor Day, repeats of “Two and a Half Men” on CBS settled for an average adults 18-49 rating of 1.5, down a whopping 40% from the 2.5 it earned a year ago, according to Nielsen.

(Interestingly, “Men” remains at the top of the syndicated heap this summer, as auds continue to yuk it up over older repeats of the show.)

While ratings for “Men” took a tumble on CBS, it was by no means the only comedy to shed a significant chunk of its viewership this summer as the trend of audience disinterest in repeats accelerated.

Other returning CBS comedies like “How I Met Your Mother” (down 24%), “The Big Bang Theory” (down 32%) and “Rules of Engagement” (down a lesser 11%) have all lost viewers. Some of the decline for “Big Bang” can be attributed to its move from its post-“Two and a Half Men” slot on Mondays a year ago to its leadoff position on Thursdays this summer, while Monday vet “Mother” seemed to suffer in tandem with “Men.”

All of NBC’s returning Thursday comedies struggled this summer, with top-rated “The Office” holding up best (down 15%). Bigger declines occurred for “30 Rock” (down 20%), “Community” (down 22%) and “Parks and Recreation” (down 27%).

And at Fox, declines for its animated comedies range from 11% for “American Dad” to 18% for “The Cleveland Show.”

ABC has fared best with its comedy repeats, with “Modern Family” up a tick vs. last year (1.7 vs. 1.6) and “The Middle” down a tick (1.1 vs. 1.2).

All the nets are hoping that auds will be back in front of their sets and looking to laugh when original episodes of comedies kick off Sept. 19.

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