‘Go On’ Earns Strong Start On NBC Thanks To Olympic Audience, Matthew Perry’s Appeal

“Go On” earned a strong showing for NBC as the sitcom debuted to a strong showing, pulling in most of the Olympic audience and marking Matthew Perry’s return to television.

The sitcom attracted more than 16 million of the close to 30 million people still tuned in to the 2012 London Olympics on NBC when the show made its debut at about 11 p.m., the Washington Post reported. That puts the performance better than anything NBC did last year for its slate of new shows — the highly anticipated Lorne Michaels comedy “Up All Night” did the best with 11 million viewers.

“Go On” stars Matthew Perry along with Sarah Baker and Brett Gelman. Perry plays a grieving widower sportcaster who is forced into group therapy. Though is sounds like a dark concept for a comedy, it has tested well with audiences and critics so far and had a bigger launch than any new show in the past few years, save CBS’s “2 Broke Girls.”

“Go On” did particularly well with the coveted 18- to 49-year-old bracket, scoring 5.6 percent of the nation’s audience in this area. It also did a great job keeping the viewers who were able to stay up for the late debut. The show retained 84 percent of its first-half audience for the second half.

The show also had help from NBC, which aired it sans commercials. It also has the built-in star appeal of Matthew Perry, who has been trying to recapture the magic of “Friends” with a few not-so-successful sitcom.

As Entertainment Weekly reviewer Hillary Busis noted, the show had a different vibe than the traditional sitcom:

From its premise to its characters to its very set, Go On contains more than a whiff of NBC’s Community — which seems odd from a business perspective, given that show’s notoriously low ratings. Both series are about what happens when a sarcastic alpha male finds himself at a life-changing crossroads, and both feature an ensemble of misfits who meet under unconventional circumstances and form a surrogate family (presumably, in Go On‘s case).

Despite its strong opening for NBC and the appeal of Matthew Perry, “Go On” still has a challenge ahead — maintaining its large audience once the Olympics aren’t around to help anymore.

(Image Credit: Jordin Althaus)