NBC’s ambitious new drama series Awake opened last night with a 1.9/5 in adults 18-49 and 6.2 million viewers. While not a great number by any stretch, especially against all-repeat competition on the broadcast networks, I feel like the series starring Jason Isaacs did what it could with what it was dealt — a complex, original concept that is not easy to promote (like the fairytale characters from Once Upon A Time for example) and a spot in a faltering NBC Thursday lineup that has become tarnished as the graveyard of 2 flops already this season, Prime Suspect and The Firm. For what it’s worth, Awake‘s premiere did better than the openers of both of these series (a tenth up from Prime Suspect‘s debut, 36% up from The Firm’s) but they faced stronger competition. Awake‘s premiere was also probably impacted by the woeful state of most of NBC’s schedule (except Monday). It’s hard to promote a show when very few people are watching. For instance, the highest-rated NBC program on Wednesday, the night before Awake‘s premiere, managed a 1.6 in 18-49. Last night, Awake was the second-highest NBC series behind The Office (2.5/7, down a tenth from last week). Awake actually built onto its lead-in, Up All Night, which logged only a 1.6/4, also down a tenth. Earlier in the night, 30 Rock (1.4/4) was down a tenth, while Parks & Recreation (1.7/5) was flat despite mostly rerun competition on the other networks. Underscoring NBC’s deep ratings troubles this season, Awake posted a season high for the network in the 10 PM slot. It was the third highest-rated drama series debut on NBC this season behind Smash, which has a huge lead-in from The Voice, and Grimm, the only new NBC series this season that qualifies as a (modest) breakout, getting on the board with no big promotion or lead-in.
Fox’s American Idol (5.3/15, 18.3 million) was the only series to take advantage of the lesser competition last night as ABC and CBS switched to repeats post-February sweep. The episode, which determined the show’s 13 finalists, drew Idol‘s biggest Thursday numbers this season, up 18% in 18-49 and 17% in total viewers from last Thursday. It goes without saying that Fox won the night in all key measures.