Thursday’s 10 PM debut of Shonda Rhimes’ new ABC series How to Get Away With Murder became the biggest overall gainer of Premiere Week 2014-15, adding 6.0 million total viewers after 3 days of playback. The new drama, created by Peter Nowalk, clocked the biggest ever total viewer increase in L+3 for any telecast on any network, season, beating previous record holder, NBC’s The Blacklist episode of January 27, 2014, which had grown by 5.6 million viewers. HTGAWM climbed to 20.3 million total viewers and counting for its kickoff episode in the just released L+3 data.
Murder is the second biggest gainer so far this season in the demo, adding 1.9 rating points to its L+SD tally. It trails only CBS’ The Big Bang Theory fall premiere of Sept 22nd. Murder is, however, the No. 1-ranked gainer among freshman series, topping the playback gains of Fox’s Gotham, which gained 1.8 rating points. HTGAWM jumped to a 5.8 rating, when L+3 numbers are factored in.
The Murder ratings news was not entirely unexpected, given the perfect-storm nature of Premiere Week Thursday. Murder was one of the season’s most anticipated launches — part of ABC’s powerhouse Shondaland Thursdays. CBS, meanwhile, two weeks earlier had launched its Thursday NFL football package in thick of the league’s domestic violence scandal. Last Thursday’s game, not coincidentally, enjoyed a Live + 3 day gain in audience of exactly 0, because it’s, you know, football. With Live + 3 added in, Shonda’s Murder moves ahead of CBS’s football in overall audience, by about 4 million viewers. And, at this rate, Murder stands a fighting chance of winding up Premiere Week Thursday’s highest rated broadcast in the demo, once Live + 7 stats are available. Right now it trails football by 2/10th of a rating point in Live + 3.
At 9 PM Thursday, the season debut of ABC’s Shonda drama Scandal grew to 15.6 million total viewers (up 28%, or 3.4 million from its 12.2 million in L+SD) and a 5.3 in the demo (36%, from a 3.9 in L+SD). Scandal saw bigger L+3 gains than its year-ago opener in both viewers (up 3.4 million vs. last year’s 2.8 million gain) and young adults (up 1.4 rating points vs. last year’s 1.2 rating points). Scandal scored its best-ever L+3 numbers in both total viewers (15.6 million) and adults 18-49 (5.3 rating).
In its new 8 PM Thursday slot, Shonda’s Grey’s Anatomy premiere jumped to 13.1 million viewers — a 30% gain from Live + Same Day’s 10.1 million) and a 4.5 in the demo (a 45% jump from a 3.1 in L+SD). Grey’s delivered its most-watched L+3 telecast in two years.
For comparison sake, NBC’s Thursday 10 PM drama, the season debut of Parenthood, logged a 64% demo jump, factoring in 3-day delayed viewing, from a 1.4 rating to a 2.3. In overall audience, Parenthood climbed 53% from 4.263 million viewers to 6.506 million. And Fox’s Bones season debut, at 8 PM Thursday, climbed38%, from 1.6 to 2.2 in the demo, and 27%, from 6.345 million to 8.064 million in overall audience.