It’s really not that successful compared with old sitcoms. It’s just that in today’s world there are so few sitcoms that it is far ahead of the pack. In fact no sitcom has touched Laverne & Shirley in terms of overall viewers and percent of viewer. And it’s unlikely any will, because that show came before cable was hugely popular. Now that cable/dish is here to stay, the audience is fragmented so even though there is more people it’s split
First of all it’s on at 8pm (9pm Eastern/Pacific) on CBS, which is a slot CBS basically has owned since “I Love Lucy” came on. In fact, in the early 80s when the sitcom was dying Kate & Allie was the only top 10 sitcom and guess what? It aired in the same time slot on the same day.
CBS’s powerhouses, Everybody Loves Raymond and Murphy Brown also aired in that slot.
But there are two REAL keys to it’s popularity.
First of all is that it appeals to MALES, specifically WHITE MALES. This key demographic makes it very valuable
Second is its rerun value, and this is where the money is really made. Hour long shows don’t really sell well in rerun syndication. This sitcom, along with the Big Bang Theory, are the only sitcoms that have made it into the year end top 15.
Reruns are where money is really made. Other shows like *American Idol *and *Dancing With the Stars * blow Two and a Half Men in terms of overall ratings but they have little rerun value, and the demographic is older people (DWTS) and teens(AI) which are much less desirable to sellers.
So while the show is popular remember its true popularity is relative.