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The highly-promoted, fawned-over-by-journalists second season of Bomani Jones’ HBO series premiered on Friday. HBO placed “Race Theory” in the prominent 11 p.m. ET time slot, following the top-rated “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
Bomani now calls white people racist on HBO at the conclusion of Maher’s signature “New Rules” segment.
Networks judge programs on how they fare compared to their lead-in. Do they maintain 70% of viewers? 60%? Can they gain from what they inherited? Several shows can; others do.
Bomani cannot; does not.
Friday, Maher drew 799,000 viewers with an impressive 0.10 TV rating. Maher handed Jones a substantial audience.
Yet “Race Theory” drew just 168,000 viewers with a barely-registering 0.03 TV rating, per ShowBuzzDaily. That’s a 79% decline from the show that aired immediately before him.
We would say losing around 80% of a lead-in is unprecedented. That was the case until last spring, the season in which Bomani debuted on HBO.
In 2022, HBO aired Jones immediately after John Oliver. Likewise, he averaged just 20% of Oliver’s audience.
Now, because Oliver is hardly the draw of Maher, Bomani’s total viewership is a tad higher than during the previous season.
That was expected. As was the tank job. We predicted as much Thursday, ahead of his return:
“Bomani will inherently see an uptick in viewers during his second season. This year, HBO will air “Race Theory” following “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
Maher often doubles the viewers of Oliver. Put simply: Losing 80% of Maher’s viewers > losing 80% of Oliver’s.
But that goes for all programs. Though few could tank an audience to the degree Jones has. Most shows maintain at least 40 percent of their lead in.
So when the press — which treats Jones as a sacred cow — publishes a piece saying his viewership is up from the previous season — you know it’s coming — know that to be a dishonest measurement.
“Race Theory” is perhaps Jones’ greatest dud yet. Other entries on the list include “High Noon” and “Right Time,” which ESPN canceled after setting respective lows on television and radio.
Bomani Jones is not a draw. He has now followed Bill Maher, John Oliver, and Stephen A. Smith –three of the biggest names in media — in separate television lineups. He has failed each time.
For most, losing 80% of a lead-in is a cancelable offense in the television industry is a cancelable offense.
However, executives continue to hand Jones opportunities to fail anew — and call white people racist in the process.
A host could only dream of having the leash the industry has put on Jones. That includes Bill Simmons, whose program HBO canceled despite averaging double the viewership as Bomani.
Last year, Jones complained that the corporate system employs “white men” despite their “mediocrity,” that they fail but remain employed.
Isn’t it ironic?