UPDATE 2:30 PM: Only one change in the finals on the Big 4 nets, with The Big Bang Theory rising to a 4.7 in 18-49 and 18.2 million viewers and Life In Pieces slipping to a tenth 2.6 as well as 11.3 million viewers. The freshman’s lead-in retention also slipped, to 55%.
Snapshot: New series premieres: Blindspot (3.1 in 18-49), Minority Report (1.1), Life In Pieces (2.7); Returning series premieres all down, ABC’s Castle (1.2) and CBS’ NCIS: LA (1.2) hit series low against Blindspot.
The new broadcast season launched last night amid uncertainty about the long-term future of the traditional TV business, brought to the forefront by the recent market jitters that hit a lot of media stocks hard. Add to that Nielsen’s losing battle to provide numbers that accurately reflect TV viewing, which is increasingly done at times and on platforms that are hard to measure, and we are faced with a confusing picture of a business in flux.
Because viewers are flocking to alternative means of viewing, the expectation is that Live+same day numbers will continue to decline for most shows, with returning series’ tally projected to go down 5-10% for that reason alone. Where a new show had to deliver an adults 18-49 rating in the 4s to be considered a strong premiere, that threshold has now been lowered, and we can call any debut that has a 3 in front of its Live+SD debut number solid.
Two high-profile new dramas — NBC’s Blindspot and Fox’s Minority Report — launched on season premiere night to different results.
Blindspot, one of the best received broadcast pilots this fall, opened with a 3.1 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.6 million viewers. That was down from the fall 2013 series debut of NBC’s The Blacklist (3.8) as well as the James Spader’s drama Season 2 opener (3.5) in the time slot. However, as we noted, there is continuous L+SD ratings attrition. Additionally, The Blacklist series debut had a stronger lead-in from The Voice premiere (4.9). Last night’s season opener of The Voice, coming off the series’ Emmy win on Sunday, drew a 3.5 in 18-49, down -10% from last fall’s debut to a L+SD premiere low (but up +21% from the most recent spring finale). Blindspot‘s lead-in retention (82%) was very good, topping the 78% of The Voice 18-49 rating The Blacklist debut held onto. This was actually the highest retention for a post-Voice drama debut to date. And Blindspot did much better than NBC’s most recent drama launch in the hour, State Of Affairs (2.2). NBC won the opening night of the season in 18-49 (3.4) and total viewers (11.6 million). According to NBC, its fourth consecutive 18-49 win on Premiere Monday is the longest streak for a network on the night.
Fox’s Gotham opened its second season with a 1.6 adults 18-49 rating. That was half of the demo rating for the heavily touted series premiere last fall (3.2) and down a tenth from last season’s finale. The promoted opening of the new Rise Of The Villains chapter of the series probably could’ve done a little better but Gotham is a strong DVR gainer, and Fox projects a 100% rise to a 3,2 18-49 rating in Live+7.
Even DVR gains won’t be able to offset the slow start for new drama Minority Report. The series based on the Steven Spielberg movie opened with a 1.1 adults 18-49 rating. The futuristic drama has a strong name recognition but has not been received very well by critics and has largely failed to ignite sci-fi fans.
CBS’ megahit The Big Bang Theory has finally started to show signs of aging, but still is a cut above all series on broadcast television except for Fox’s Empire and the highest-rated comedy by a mile. The Season 9 premiere of Big Bang drew a 4.5 rating in 18-49 and 17.8 million viewers at 8 PM last night to rank as the top-rated program on Premiere Monday. It was used to launch new comedy Life In Pieces (2.7). CBS didn’t put a major off-air marketing campaign behind the new series, instead relying largely on the massive Big Bang lead-in to draw viewers to the Life In Pieces‘ debut. It did OK but CBS brass likely would’ve liked to see a bigger retention of the Big Bang demo audience than the 60% Life In Pieces delivered. The new comedy did better than The Millers’ Season 2 debut (2.1) in the Monday 8:30 PM time slot behind Big Bang (4.6) before getting swiftly yanked. CBS is highlighting Life In Pieces‘ viewership (11.52 million) as the most-watched Monday comedy premiere since 2011 (2 Broke Girls). LIP‘s viewer retention was a little higher that the demo, 65%.
The second season of Scorpion (2.2) did solid business. It was down -31% from last season’s debut (3.2) but that debut followed a highly-rated original episode of Big Bang (5.3) at 8:30 PM. CBS’ year-to-year decline carried over to 10 PM where veteran NCIS: LA (1.2) was down -37% from last season’s opener, hitting a series low in L+SD.
Both established Monday 10 PM dramas had pretty miserable returns. Joining NCIS: LA, ABC’s Castle (1.2) was down -45% from last fall’s opener, also hitting a series low. And that is with a NFL pre-emption in Indianapolis. The premiere featured very little of co-lead Stana Katic, we’ll see if there will be a bump when she rejoins the show full-time. Against increased competition, Dancing With The Stars (1.8) is currently running down -14% from last week’s premiere.
The CW is still running its summer lineup, whose numbers were skewed by an NFL pre-emption last night.
Elsewhere, last night’s Monday Night Football 20-7 match-up between the NY Jets and the Indianapolis Colts scored a 9.3 in metered market ratings for ESPN. That’s basically steady with the overnight for last week’s MNF official kickoff much closer 26-24 game between the victorious Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles. Last night’s MNF is also down just 7% from the second game on the ESPN flagship football show in the second week of the 2014-15 NFL season. As usual, ESPN looks poised to win Monday night overall.