The newly minted Freeform got off to a good official start on Tuesday with the return of Pretty Little Liars and the debut of Shadowhunters. The top-rated show of the channel formerly known as ABC Family returned from its Season 6 winter break with 2.25 million total viewers and a 1.06 rating among adults 18-49. Up against President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union on the Big 4 and cable news, the newbie based on the bestselling young-adult fantasy book series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare did pretty well with an audience of 1.82 million and a 0.8 rating.
Holding on to 71% of the 18-49 demo from its slightly spilling over PLL lead-in, the 9:02 PM starting Shadowhunters topped its 9 PM time slot in all of cable. The new series about demon-hunting teens who are part angel and part human was the top debut the channel has had under any name in two years. Only the October 22, 2013, premiere of PLL spinoff Ravenswood has done better with its 2.12 million total viewers and 0.9 rating.
Undoubtedly the juice of the top show in all of cable helped Shadowhunters‘ success on Tuesday – which is what the midseason return of Pretty Little Liars was. Up 18% in the demo from its Season 5 midseason return of January 6, 2015, the 8 PM PPL also was up 12% in viewership from its comparable of a year ago – which was a winter return low for the mystery thriller show based on Sara Shepard’s books. Unsurprisingly, last night’s PPL was down from the S6 midseason finale of August 11 last year. Hitting 18-month highs for the I. Marlene King-EP’d series, that show drew a 1.4 demo rating and 3.1 million viewers as it revealed the signature questions of the series.
Always a social media magnet, PLL benefited even more than usual online yesterday from an extra all-day push for Freeform’s debut. The show was the top TV series on Tuesday on Facebook Instagram and Twitter with 535,673, 4.2 million and 1.1 million engagements respectively.