‘The Brady Bunch’: Why the Show Was Never a Massive Hit in TV Ratings

by Joe Rutland
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With “The Brady Bunch” being a popular show in syndication, one might presume it scored big in its original run on ABC. It didn’t happen.

The show was a Friday night regular throughout its network television run. It did get viewers, obviously, but the numbers weren’t great.

When it made its premiere in 1969, “The Brady Bunch” got off to a slow start. It never found a spot in the Top 30 programs of Nielsen ratings. The highest it ever ranked was No. 34, according to an article on ME.tv

‘The Brady Bunch’ Schedule Might Have Hurt Viewership

Why wasn’t “The Brady Bunch,” such a family-friendly show, a network hit? While no specific reason is given, a couple of ideas about network TV at the time might offer hints.

Friday night is a bad night for TV viewing. Ratings for some shows over the years have defied this explanation, though. They soar through the stratosphere, like “Dallas,” reaching Top 10 status in those all-important Nielsens. Maybe the much-needed demographic for a show like “The Brady Bunch” didn’t tune in enough on ABC.

Another reason might be is that adult viewers couldn’t buy into the show’s premise. You had a man and woman, actors Robert Reed and Florence Henderson, respectively, getting married with each one having three kids from previous marriages.

Combined, that would make eight people under one roof. Add in Alice the maid, played by Ann B. Davis, and it made for a tic-tac-toe style memorable TV show opening.

Young Viewers Kept Tuning In To ‘Brady Bunch’ Each Week

Now kids loved “The Brady Bunch.” That’s what kept ABC executives from pulling the plug on the show a lot of times. Their core viewership made up of American youngster’s registered demographic numbers.

It also helps that the show is filmed in Los Angeles, where executives could get guest stars from the sports and entertainment worlds.

These included Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Wes Parker, Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Deacon Jones, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, and “The Monkees” lead singer Davy Jones. Talk about an eclectic group.

But young viewers love the guest stars, family antics, and zany trips to Hawaii or the Grand Canyon. Then again, the family aspect of the show, too, could have been something kids wanted in their own lives. Seeing parents like Mike and Carol Brady deal with their six kids every week might have been soothing. Nevertheless, “The Brady Bunch” continues to entertain generation after generation on TV.

Outsider.com