Snapshot: New series premieres: CBS’ MacGyver (1.7 in 18-49, 10.9 million), the highest-rated and most watched program of the night; Fox’s The Exorcist (1.0, 2.9 million). Returning series: MacGyver-boosted Hawaii Five-0 was up, and ABC’s Last Man Standing and Blue Bloods were even; everything else was down.
Do the broadcast networks need extensive development season and pilots? In May, CBS put MacGyver on the fall schedule on a title, wing and a prayer after discarding the pilot made last spring, keeping only star Lucas Till and co-star George Eads. Hawaii Five-0‘s Peter Lenkov was recruited to conceive a new reboot of the 1980s series. In four months, a new pilot episode was written, cast and filmed and a series got up and running for a September premiere. Awareness was great, courtesy of the familiar title, reviews were pretty terrible, but in the end, CBS’ bet on remaking MacGyver for purely financial reasons seems to be paying off, at least in Week 1, with a big opening by Friday standards, 1.7 Live+same day rating in adults 18-49 and 10.9 million viewers at 8 PM last night. A self-starter at 8 PM, it towered over the competition as the highest-rated and most watched program on Friday. It was the most watched Friday scripted premiere since CBS’ Blue Bloods in 2010 (13.02m) and highest rated in 18-49 since NBC’s Dracula in 2013-14 (1.8). Overall, MacGyver was the top scripted telecast on Friday night since Hawaii Five-0 in January 2014 (1.8) and logged the biggest CBS premiere in the 8 PM hour since 2005 in viewers (Ghost Whisperer) and 2012 in 18-49 (Undercover Boss).
MacGyver, which was up +87% in viewers, +42% in A18-49 from The Amazing Race’s series opener in the slot last fall, gave a boost to Lenkov’s Hawaii Five-0 at 9 PM (1.3 in 18-49, 10.09 million), which was up +30% in the demo and +22% in viewers from last year’s season premiere. Blue Bloods (1.3, 10.4 million) was on par. CBS won every hour of primetime in 18-49 and total viewers.
While MacGyver exceeded expectations, results for the other new reboot on the night, Fox’s The Exorcist, were mixed. Because of the iconic title, awareness for the series was strong, and, unlike MacGyver, which was universally panned, the series was well reviewed. But the premiere drew a modest 1.0 in 18-49 and 2.9 million viewers. Not a flop for a Friday series, which also held onto most of its lead-in Hell’s Kitchen (1.2, 3.3 million) but the expectations were likely higher. It’s been hard for the horror genre to produce a breakout on broadcast TV despite an obvious appetite for the genre – while way down, American Horror Story just nabbed a 1.8 L+SD in 18-49 on FX.
The once dominant Friday demo player, ABC, finished second to CBS last night. While veteran Last Man Standing (1.1) was solid, matching its season premiere last fall and up a tenth from the finale, Dr. Ken (0.9) was down -40% from its series debut (though it was even with the season finale), and long-time Friday No.1 program Shark Tank (1.1) was down -35% from last fall’s premiere and -0.2 from the season finale.
NBC aired comedy repeats followed by Dateline, which drew a 0.9 — likely to be rounded up to a 1.0 in 18-49 — edging ABC’s 20/20 (0.7).