It’s gratifying when networks that take creative risks with programming that defy convention get rewarded. It just happened to ABC whose musical fairytale comedy Galavant got off to a promising start last night.
The premiere of the series, from Dan Fogelman and Alan Menken, drew a 2.1 rating among adults 18-49 at 8 PM and 7.8 total viewers against football-buoyed Fox comedies. Galavant towered from its lead-in, America’s Funniest Home Videos (1.3), which faced a monster football overrun on Fox. Galavant ranked as the third-highest comedy series debut this season behind ABC’s Black-ish and NBC’s Marry Me, both of which benefited from far stronger lead-ins airing behind Modern Family and The Voice, respectively. This marks the highest-rated Sunday series debut on any network since March 9, 2014 when ABC drama Resurrection opened with a 3.8 and Fox’s Cosmos started with a 2.1.
Galavant lost a little steam at 8:30 PM when a second original episode drew a 1.9 in 18-49 and 6.8 million viewers; we’ll see next week if the slide will get steeper. The comedy, which is slated for a short, 4-week run of back-to-back episodes in Once Upon A Time‘s 8-9 PM time slot, still finished ahead of the last Once original in the 8 PM hour, up +17%.
Galavant was a highlight in an otherwise bleak ABC Sunday ratings picture. Resurrection at 9 PM held onto half of Galavant‘s 18-49 lead-in, averaging a 1.0 in the demo, even with its most recent original on December 7. Revenge (0.9) returned from hiatus down -25% from its fall finale to a Live+same day series low.
Almost two years after the previous season of The Celebrity Apprentice debuted, Donald Trump’s reality competition returned with a bang, opening its 14th cycle with a 2.3 in 18-49, up +35% from its Season 13 opener on March 3, 2013. The new installment was filmed almost a year ago and that seems to be working in its favor as it includes appearances by former winner, the late Joan Rivers, and featured a headline-grabbing praise for Bill Cosby, now mired in rape accusations, on the premiere last night. This was NBC’s highest 18-49 rating in the 9-11 PM time period with regular entertainment programming in two years, since January 6, 2013, when another preview of a long-running reality series, The Biggest Loser, logged a 3.0. Like Loser, Celebrity Apprentice only launched on Sunday, where it once aired, and moves into its regular Monday time period tonight.
Given that the highest-rated series telecasts on Sunday for the last two years have been unscripted, NBC brass may take a second look at its strategy for the past two seasons to air dramas in the Sunday 9-11 PM period post-football. At 7 PM, Dateline NBC opened its Sunday run this season with a 1.3, even with last year’s season premiere.
Because of frequent football overruns, Fox’s and CBS’ ratings comparisons are tricky. Fox is boasting its highest-rated Sunday night since the Super Bowl last February but that was fueled by a huge NFL Wild Card overrun, which, combined with overtime, averaged a 12.6 in adults 18-49 and 37.6 million viewers from 7-8 PM in the fast nationals, a number that may climb up even further in the finals. (UPDATE: Viewership for the game went up to 42.3 million viewers in the finals to become Fox’s second most watched Wild Card game ever.) Needless to say, all Fox comedies that followed posted big ratings gains. The Simpsons (4.6) was up +59% from its most recent original on December 7; Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2.9) was up +93% for its highest-rated episode besides the one that aired after the Super Bowl; Family Guy (2.8) was up +22%, and Bob’s Burgers (1.9) was up +46%. Fox easily won the night in all measures.
Against the NFL coverage on Fox, CBS’ 60 Minutes (0.8) was down -50% from its most recent original on December 14. In its return from hiatus, freshman drama Madam Secretary (1.4) was down -26% from its fall finale on November 30 but even with its last episode that didn’t benefit from a football overrun on Nov. 16, which was a series low. The Good Wife (1.3) was down -7% from its most recent original on Nov. 23 and even with its last airing without an NFL overrun, tying a season low. CSI (1.2) was even with its most recent original on December 14, also tying a series low in Live + Same Day.