UPDATE 2 PM: The Live+Same Day ratings are in, and ABC got a pleasant surprise, a .2 lift for both Dancing With The Stars (to a 2.2 rating in 18-49) and the preview of new drama Forever (to 1.7), which is proving to be the DVR player its online awareness suggested it could be. The surprising uptick also bodes better for the drama’s L+3 and L+7 projections, just revised up by ABC to 2.3 and 2.6, respectively, so I’ve adjusted the qualifier for Forever‘s premiere in the headline from “soft” to “decent”.
Not much other movement in the finals, with only the 8 PM episode of The Big Bang Theory inching up a tenth to a 5.4 and new CBS light drama Scorpion sliding down by a tenth to a 3.2 at 9 PM.
PREVIOUS 10: 30 AM: The 2014-15 broadcast season officially kicked off last night with the biggest showdown of the fall: The top scripted series on TV, The Big Bang Theory, going head to head with network TV’s No.1 reality series, NBC’s The Voice and fall’s highest-profile new series, Fox’s Gotham. The three also faced veteran Dancing With The Stars on ABC and Monday Night Football on ESPN.
None of the big-ticket competitors in the 8 PM hour faltered, proving again that the TV universe has the ability to expand when there is enough compelling programming on.
The only newcomer in the slot, Fox’s Gotham (3.2 in adults 18-49, 8 million viewers), did everything you would like to see from a rookie — it delivered solid ratings with no lead-in support, improved significantly the time period (+39% in 18-49 vs the Bones season premiere last fall, which was a week earlier) and showed some growth (0.1) at the half-hour mark. According to Fox projections, Gotham will grow to a 5.1 in Live+7. That does not quite match the launch of last fall’s superhero drama, ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D (4.7 in Live+SD, 7.0 in L+7) but is a very healthy number in a very competitive time period.
CBS’ The Big Bang Theory continues to defy its age, impervious to scheduling moves. In its return to its original night, Big Bang kicked off its eighth season with back-to-back episodes that delivered a 5.3 and 5.4 in adults 18-49 and 17.8 million and 18 million viewers, respectively. The regular 8 PM episode matched the fast national for Big Bang‘s season premiere in the Thursday 8 PM slot last fall, while the special 8:30 PM episode was down 0.4.
This is where time shifting viewing comes into play. Last night featured three of the biggest DVR gainers on broadcast TV: Big Bang, The Blacklist and Sleepy Hollow. Last fall, they logged three of the top six 18-49 gains in Live+3 for premiere week, ranging from 1.3-1.7 rating, and were in the Top 5 for Live+7 lifts (1.7 – 2.2). So while Big Bang appears on par with last season’s opener, if CBS’ projections hold, the 8-8:30 PM premiere would go up to a 8.2 demo rating in L7, eclipsing last season’s debut, which climbed to a 7.8.
The picture is similar for NBC’s Blacklist, whose second-season premiere fast national last night, 3.4 in 18-49, was down 10.5% (0.4) from the series debut last fall. But in L7, it is projected to go up to a 5.7 vs. 5.5 for the series debut last year. Even on the fast national level, The Blacklist is impressive, up 31% from its May finale and posting its second best Live+SD result only behind the series debut.
However, even a big DVR lift (and a strong lead-in from Gotham) won’t help Fox’s Sleepy Hollow erase the deficit vs. its strong debut last September. It drew a 2.0 in 18-49 last night, holding onto a little more than half of the Gotham demo rating. That was down a big 43% from its debut last fall and also down (-17%) from its season finale. In L7, it is projected to climb to a 3.9 rating, down from the 5.3 demo rating for the series opener.
Big Bang also continues to successfully launch new series. After helping comedy The Crazy Ones log stellar premiere ratings last September, the geeky comedy did the same last night for a new hourlong series described as Big Bang in a procedural setting — Scorpion. CBS’ freshman light drama posted a solid 3.3 in 18-49, a 22% improvement vs last year’s premiere Monday when comedies (2 Broke Girls, Mom), occupied the 9 PM hour. Scorpion also easily topped Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. A good sampling heading into next week when Scorpion won’t have Big Bang as a 8:30 PM lead. At 10 PM CBS aired the Under The Dome finale (1.8), which was down -36% from last season’s closer, which aired a week earlier, but posted the supernatural drama’s best rating this season since July 14.
NBC’s The Voice (3.9), with new coaches Gwen Stefani and Pharrell, was down 20% from last fall’s premiere’s fast national but up 18% vs. its May finale for the series’ best demo rating since March 17. NBC (3.7 in 18-49, 12.6 million viewers) won the first night of the season in 18-49, while CBS (3.5, 13.1 million) was tops in total viewers.
New ABC drama Forever (1.5) got a preview behind Dancing With The Stars (2.0) before moving into the “cursed” ABC Tuesday 10 PM slot tomorrow. It did only a little better than the new ABC drama that occupied the Tuesday 10 PM slot last fall, Lucky 7, which opened with a 1.3 demo rating en route to a quick demise. Forever, about a medical examiner who is immortal, should benefit from a stronger digital presence and awareness. ABC projects a L+7 rating of a 2.4 vs. the 1.5 that Lucky 7 got. Also on the bright side, Forever won’t have to face The Blacklist in its new slot.
Dancing With The Stars (12 million viewers) fell 12% in total viewers and 17% in 18-49 from last Monday’s season premiere, which was better retention than last fall.
The CW aired a new America’s Next Top Model (0.4), which was on par with last week.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football from 8:15-11:45 PM ET logged a 9.2 overnight rating in the metered markets for the Chicago Bears’ 27-19 road victory over the New York Jets, down 7% from last Monday.