American Crime (2.0/6) made its debut last night at 10 PM after being heavily promoted by ABC — plus given extra juice by social media support from Scandal star Kerry Washington and the lure of the broadcast debut of the new Avengers: Age Of Ultron trailer, which has been online for a few days. Depicting a home-invasion killing and the aftermath both personal and institutional, the 11-episode limited series from Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley was the second such series launch for ABC in less than a week. Unlike March 1st’s less-than-stellar Secrets & Lies debut, American Crime won its time slot and delivered well for the network. Its 10 PM rivals Elementary (1.3/4) on CBS and Allegiance (0.8/3) on NBC were down 13% from its last original and even with last week, respectively, in the adults 18-49 demo.
Comparing seasonal timing and drama to drama, the premiere of American Crime was up 33% from the soft debut of Black Box in the same slot on the same day of the week April 24 last year after Grey’s Anatomy. Looking at another more recent drama debut in the same slot on the same night, the new series was down 48% (3.9) from the big launch of the Shonda Rhimes-produced How To Get Away With Murder last September 25. Like American Crime, HTGAWM had Scandal as a lead-in, though that show last fall was the much anticipated Season 4 debut of the DC-based drama. Looking week to week, American Crime, toplined by Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman, took a 28% fall from the two-hour freshman finale of HTGAWM on February 26. Viewershipwise, the one-hour American Crime drew in 8.4 million. With a 6% dip, that’s pretty steady with what HTGAWM got last week.
Obviously, part of American Crime’s opening had to come from its Rhimes lead-ins of Grey’s Anatomy (2.4/8) and Scandal (3.0/9). While American Crime fell off 33% from its lead-in, the Shondaland shows were up 9% from last week and down the same amount from its last original two weeks ago, respectively. ABC and CBS tied for the top spot for the night in the demo with a 2.5/8 rating. CBS was No. 1 in viewers with an audience of 10.9 million.
With CBS’ new Thursday lineup settling in, The Big Bang Theory (4.7/16) kicked things off. Once again the highest-rated and most-watched show of the night (17.88 million), BBT rose 4% from last week. The third week of Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon’ new version of The Odd Couple (3.0/9) also saw a small uptick – it bopped up 7% from its February 26 show. Following a BBT repeat, fellow comedy Mom (2.2/6) saw a 5% rise from last week.
The fourth week of NBC’s miniseries The Slap (0.8/3) provided more of an opening punch for the network than it has since its debut. Based on an Aussie drama of the same name, the show was up 14% over its February 26 show among 18-49s. No such change for The Blacklist (1.7/5), which tied a series low among preliminary numbers with an 11% drop from last week.
On Fox, it was a minor roller coaster with American Idol (2.1/7) slipping 5% from last week while freshman Backstrom (1.0/3) rose 11%. Of course, as is commonly the case with the live Idol, early numbers could see adjustment later in the day.