There was improvement though NBC’s Thursday night remains a work in progress after a solid launch against Thursday Night Football for the male-skewing Heroes Reborn and a slow start for new drama The Player. Heroes Reborn (1.9 in 18-49, adjusted up to 2.0 in the finals) picked up where the original series left off, on par with the February 2010 series finale (2.0). Of course, things have changed a lot over the past five-plus years as live viewership has eroded. Back then, a 2.0 Live+Same Day rating was a reason for cancellation; now it’s a reason for celebration. In total viewers, Heroes Reborn grew, from 4.4 million for the finale to 6 million for last night’s debut. That indicates an older-skewing viewership for the reboot, which is normal given that the original show’s fans have aged since its run.
Heroes Reborn, which had high awareness and good not great intent to view, had the Herculean task of jump-starting a night where NBC had been flatlining for a while, even after dispatching its flagship drama The Blacklist to the 9 PM slot last spring. To get a perspective, Heroes Reborn‘s 1.9 in 18-49 actually marks NBC’s best demo delivery in the Thursday 8-10 PM time period in three and a half years, when comedies Community and The Office were the night’s tentpoles. Versus last fall’s 16th season premiere of The Biggest Loser in the slot, Heroes Reborn was up +19%. Even back in the day of the original series when DVRs were still a novelty, Heroes was among the most time-shifted series, so its rating will likely go significantly in Live+3 and Live+7.
It was a low start for The Player (1.2), which was down -14% from last fall’s final-season premiere of Parenthood in the 10 PM time period despite facing a softer How To Get Away With Murder. Its lead-in retention also was soft, 63% (though when only live viewing is factored in, the retention was much better, 1.21 to 0.97). The action drama will get a second shot at a launch behind The Blacklist next week, which should be a better lead-in. The Philip Winchester-Wesley Snipes drama also may get a DVR boost as there was a lot of appointment viewing last night, but the initial sampling is not encouraging and something that new shows find it hard to recover from.
Speaking of appointment viewing, ABC’s TGIT lineup was back. As has been the case with all returning dramas so far this fall, all three premieres were down.
The veteran, Grey’s Anatomy, delivered the most impressive hold, kicking off its 12th season with a 2.8 in 18-49. That was down -10% from last season’s premiere, within the projected overall year-to-year decline in Live+SD viewing. The medical drama always goes up in the finals, so it will likely close the small gap with last year even further. At 9 PM, Scandal (3.2, adjusted up to 3.3 in the finals) was down -16% from last fall’s premiere. The biggest drop came at 10 PM where last fall’s hottest newcomer, How To Get Away With Murder (2.6), opened its second season down -32% from its big series premiere on the heels of star Viola Davis’ historic Emmy win. In a trademark Shonda Rhimes fashion, HTGAWM offered a big reveal/cliffhanger resolution in the second-season premiere, though it always has been hard for dense, heavily serialized thrillers to sustain the momentum after the initial mystery is solved. Even with the declines, ABC’s Shondaland Thursday averaged a solid nightly average of a 2.9 in 18-49 and 9.3 million viewers.
It was a pretty good night for the New York Giants on Thursday as they beat the Washington Redskins 32-21, and it was a fairly good night for CBS and the NFL Network. Week 2 of Thursday Night Football scored a 11.9/20 in the metered markets. While declining -17% from the season opener on a less competitive Thursday last week, last night’s game was up 40% from the ratings for the Week 2 Atlanta Falcons-Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56-14 blowout last year. CBS is projected to win the night in total viewers and adults 18-49.
Fox stayed out of the fray with a repeat of the Scream Queens premiere.
*reboot of an existing series.