PREVIOUS: This is the type of premiere ratings ABC had been praying for. After a string of disappointments — Lucky 7 and Betrayal in the fall and most recently The Assets, Killer Women and Mind Games — new drama Resurrection last night opened to a 3.6 rating in adults 18-49 and 13.3 million total viewers, the highest rating for a midseason drama launch in two years and the highest-rated and most-watched broadcast program last night. A lot had been riding on Resurrection, with ABC going all in on promoting the supernatural drama it considered its last and best hope for a ratings success. (Had it failed, all those Am I Dead? #ABC billboards would’ve taken on a whole new meaning.)
The best news for Resurrection was that it broke out on its own at 9 PM, spiking from its lead-in, Once Upon A Time (2.3 in 18-49, 7.3 million), whose midseason premiere was up 21% in the demo from the fall finale on December 15. That is a great number given that it fell on the first night of daylight savings time when viewers are still adjusting. At 10 PM, Revenge (1.9, 6.5 million) didn’t take advantage of its big Resurrection lead-in, though riding its coattails was enough for a 46% jump in 18-49 from the show’s most recent original on January 19. Resurrection‘s strong premiere marks another success for the pilot’s director Charles McDougall, who previously helmed the pilot for another ABC Sunday 9 PM series that helped changed the network’s fortunes, Desperate Housewives (as well as CBS’ The Good Wife). McDougall is back at ABC this season, helming pilot Secrets & Lies. Resurrection also marks a successful first series launch for Brad Pitt’s Plan B, which is producing with Brillstein Entertainment, just a week after the company landed a Best Picture Oscar for 12 Years A Slave. Paced by Resurrection, ABC posted rare Sunday night ratings wins in 18-49 and total viewers with regular programming for a second Sunday victory in a row, following the Oscars the previous week.
Last night offered an intriguing juxtaposition of faith vs. science as the debut of Resurrection went head-to-head with the premiere of Fox’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (as well as the finale of True Detective on HBO and The Walking Dead on AMC). Ratings are always a valid measure of a TV program’s success, but in the case of Cosmos, born out of comedy bad boy Seth MacFarlane’s desire to get Americans interested in science, I was ready to make an exception as every set of eyeballs for the show is a true achievement, exposing another viewer to the science world. Cosmos didn’t need the lenience. With help from President Obama, who provided opening remarks, the reboot of Carl Sagan’s PBS classic drew a 2.1 in 18-49 and 5.8 million viewers. It held virtually its entire lead-in from MacFarlane’s Family Guy (2.2), which was up 10% from its last original in its 8:30 PM time slot premiere. And the Cosmos opener is not done. It premiered simultaneously on 10 Fox-owned networks last night, including FX and National Geographic, so its total audience is expected to go up. Probably impacted by daylight savings, Bob’s Burgers (0.9) in its new 7 PM berth was down 40% from its last original; The Simpsons (1.6) at 8 PM was down 6%.
At CBS, The Amazing Race (1.8) was up 20% from last week but The Good Wife (1.3) and The Mentalist (1.6) were down from their last originals on January 12, by 28% and 11%, respectively. NBC stayed out of the fray with a Voice repeat.