They can’t be all as big as Empire, but Backstrom didn’t embarrass itself in its series debut last night. The House-esque crime procedural, originally developed at CBS, opened with a 2.0 rating in adults 18-49 and 8 million viewers. It followed American Idol (2.7, 10.5 million), which posted week-to-week gains for a second consecutive night as a solid word-of-mouth seems to be bringing back some fans.
Backstrom did better than the series premiere in the same slot of another anti-hero drama last season, the now-defunct Rake, which opened with a 1.7 demo rating despite a stronger Idol lead-in (3.3). Backstrom also matched the debut of one of the drama pilots CBS picked up to series over Backstrom, Stalker, which also premiered with a 2.0 in 18-49 with a 2.7 lead-in.
Backstrom had the luxury of opening on a quiet night. Any sampling would be helpful as the rookie will be tested next week when it faces the much hyped winter premiere of Scandal. A week later, it will have to face both Scandal and The Blacklist, coming off a post-Super Bowl episode. Fox won the night in 18-49.
Elsewhere last night, CBS sandwiched new episodes of Mom and Two and a Half Men between Big Bang Theory repeats. Mom (2.5) ticked up a tenth from last week, when it also followed a Big Bang rerun. Two and a Half Men (2.3) was up +10%. With a stronger lead-in from a Big Bang repeat vs. a new The Macarthys last week, Elementary (1.5) jumped +15%. The 8 PM Big Bang rerun was the most watched program of the night with 11.2 million viewers, leading CBS to a nightly win in total viewers.
ABC’s The Taste (0.8) ended its second season on a low note, down -11% from last week to tie a series low in Live+same day.
NBC’s lineup posted across the board gains but its fast national ratings were likely inflated by local basketball preemptions in the Portland and Louisville markets. The penultimate episode of Parenthood (1.3) is currently up week to week by a tenth in 18-49 rating. It will likely keep steady or go down a tenth in the finals. The Biggest Loser (1.2) also is currently up week to week by a tenth in 18-49 and has a good shot at staying at that number. The final episodes of Bad Judge (0.8) and A to Z (0.6) are both currently up a tenth from last week but will likely be adjusted down by .1-.2.
The CW’s Thursday dramas returned down from the winter break. The Vampire Diaries (0.7) was down -22% from its most recent original on Dec. 11, Reign (0.4) was down -20%.