ABC just can’t catch a break this season. After its new fall drama Lucky 7 tied NBC’s Ironside for the lowest-rated series debut this season with a 1.2 in adults 18-49, the network’s new limited series The Assets opened with a 0.7 at 10 PM last night. That would be the lowest-rated in-season drama series debut on the Big 4, eclipsing NBC’s Do No Harm (0.9), and is a ratings threshold that normally triggers cancellation, as was the case with Lucky 7. However, maybe in anticipation of calamity, ABC reclassified the eight-part Cold War series to a mini-series in the run-up to the premiere. And in its defense, The Assets does not hail from ABC’s entertainment division but ABC News as it is based on real-live events and didn’t get any marketing. The spy series — which is in the vein of FX’s The Americans but with no sexy Russian operatives — was preceded by the two-hour season premiere of ABC’s The Taste, which only did a bit better, 1.2, down 43% from its 8-10 PM series debut last season on Tuesday. Shockingly (or not), that was still good enough to beat NBC’s Thursday comedy block from 8-10 PM, which included the season premiere of Community.
The fifth season of Community, which marked the return of creator/showrunner Dan Harmon, opened with a 1.3 from 8-9 PM. That was down 32% from the show’s half-hour fourth-season opener last February and a season-premiere low as the veteran comedy couldn’t turn NBC’s Thursday fortunes around. Still, it tied the best 18-49 rating for a comedy series with no Voice lead-in on the night since Week 2 of the season. And it dwarfed the other two NBC Thursday comedies, Sean Saves The World (0.8, down 20% from its last original on Dec. 12) and The Michael J. Fox Show (0.8, down 11%), both of which hit series lows. Bucking the down trend, Parenthood (1.3) ticked up 8% from its last original to tie Community as NBC’s highest-rated program of the night.
CBS’ entire lineup was up from its last original outing on Dec. 12. The Big Bang Theory, which showed some fine comedic timing by airing the Penny “engagement” episode a day after actress Kaley Cuoco’s real-live nuptials, once again dominated the night with a 5.1, up 4%, and 18.9 million viewers. The Millers (2.9) was up 12%, The Crazy Ones (2.0) was up 5%, Two And A Half Men (2.1) up 11% and Elementary (1.8) up 6%. CBS easily won the night in 18-49 (2.7) and total viewers (10.9 million) though it was down double digits from the same night last season. Despite all-original lineups on two other networks, Univision (1.3) topped both ABC and NBC (tied at 1.1) for the No.2 spot in the demo on the important night for TV advertising. Fox (0.7) aired drama repeats.