A.D. The Bible Continues had emerged as NBC’s best shot at a solid drama debut this season. The Mark Burnett- and Roma Downey-produced follow-up to their hit miniseries The Bible did log NBC’s highest drama debut this season, opening with a 2.3 rating in 18-49 and 9.5 million total viewers from 9-10 PM last night. It was the top-rated show on the broadcast networks last night but fell short of the 2013 premiere of The Bible on the lower-profile History cable network, which drew a 3.3 demo rating and 13.1 million viewers.
Still, A.D. held its ground with virtually no lead-in (it followed a two-hour Dateline, which managed a 0.9 in 18-49) on a night that traditionally has been challenging for NBC post-football. Last midseason, the network launched new drama series Believe and Crisis to a 1.4 and 1.6 in 18-49 fast nationals en route to cancellations.
Their fate may be repeated by another NBC serialized drama, American Odyssey, which opened to a low 1.2 in 18-49 and 5.4 million viewers, holding onto half of its A.D. lead-in.
CBS was the only other network offering originals last night. (0.9) and Madam Secretary (1.1, -21%) were both down sharply from last week when CBS’ lineup was boosted by an NCAA basketball overrun. The (1.0) was flat, tying a series low, while Battle Creek (0.7) slipped a tenth to a low, crossing the 0.7 rating threshold I call a point of no return as there is no series on the Big 4 that has fallen to that level and lasted.
Against original programming, it was a 60-year-old movie classic that won the night in the young demo. The four-hour telecast of The Ten Commandments averaged a 1.4 for ABC, lifting it to the top spot in 18-49.