UPDATE 2:30 PM: Encouraging upward adjustment (.1) in the finals for all 3 new series premieres last night The Muppets, Limitless and Scream Queens, as well as The Voice (3.5) and NCIS (2.5). Slipping down .1 as expected is Best Time Ever (because of Voice overrun).
Snapshot: New series premieres: The Muppets (2.9 in 18-49), Limitless (1.9), Scream Queens (1.7); Returning series premieres all down, Best Time Ever (2.1) Jumps +17% In Week 2.
PREVIOUS 10 AM: Two of the most heavily promoted new fall series, ABC’s The Muppets and Fox’s Scream Queens — whose combined marketing campaigns likely topped $60 million — launched last night with same lead-in (none) but different results. Riding the curiosity factor as Jim Henson’s beloved creations return to TV, The Muppets (2.8 in 18-49 in fast nationals) did well for a self-starter against The Voice and NCIS. It doubled the 18-49 delivery of ABC’s comedy premiere in the time slot last year, Selfie (1.4).
Meanwhile, Scream Queens (1.6 in fast nationals) proved again how hard it is to convert social media buzz into Nielsen eyeballs. Scream Queens, which generated the most social media buzz pre-launch, had very high awareness but its intent to view was relatively low, which could explain the so-so premiere rating. The young-skewing horror comedy, which was the most social TV program yesterday with 415,000 tweets, is showing early signs of a cult hit with modest but loyal audience. It held steady throughout its two-hour premiere, opening with a 1.7 at 8 PM and posting 1.6 for the following three half-hours in the fast nationals. Scream Queens will have to rely on delayed and multi-platform viewing to make up for the lackluster live viewing. It started the climb with a .1 upward adjustment in the finals, to a 1.7, with Fox projecting further gains to a 3.0 in 18-49 in Live+7. Starting next week, Scream Queens will move to the 9 PM slot, with comedy lead-in.
The third new series premiere last night, CBS’ drama Limitless (1.8) did solid business for a 10 PM drama. The premiere, which featured executive producer Bradley Cooper reprising his role from the movie, built onto its lead-in, the season premiere of NCIS: New Orleans (1.7), which 10 PM shows rarely do. Limitless matched the season debut of Person of Interest in the time period last year though POI had a much stronger lead-in (2.5). Not surprising, given CBS’ NCIS-themed 8-10 PM clock, Limitless clocked in the largest total audience among the new series debuts last night, 9.8 million.
It’s been a pretty depressing start for returning series so far this season. Because of the ever expanding means of how to watch, observers had projected -5-10% declines year-to-year. So far, the drops have been steeper. Castle and NCIS: LA hit series lows on Monday. Last night, veteran NCIS (2.4) opened its 13th season down -17% from last season’s premiere for its lowest opener to date in Live+same day. Sophomore NCIS: New Orleans (1.7) was down -32% from its series debut in the time slot last September. Following The Muppets, ABC’s Fresh off the Boat (1.9) was down -24% from its series premiere on Wednesday. It also slipped 32% from its Muppets lead-in.
NBC’s The Voice (3.4) was down -17% from its Tuesday fall premiere last year. But since it was up +48% from last week’s America’s Got Talent finale in the 8-10 PM time period, it gave a boost to lead-out Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (2.2). The variety/game show was up +22% from its premiere last week. With that number, as Best Time topped the 10 PM hour, NBC brass may be having second thoughts about the decision to move the show to 8 PM staring next Tuesday.
NBC won the night in 18-49 (3.0), making it a Premiere Monday-Tuesday No.1 finish for a third straight year. CBS was No.1 in total viewers (13.3 million).