Between the second night of the start of the 15th season of American Idol (2.6/9) and her new 10 PM cop drama over on NBC, primetime belonged to Jennifer Lopez last night. Her Shades Of Blue (1.8/6) debuted to a very solid start, winning the time slot for the net in adults 18-49 for the first time since The Marriage Ref on March 4, 2010.
Rising 13% from its lead-in, the winter return of The Blacklist (1.6/5), Shades was up 50% in the demo from the premiere of NBC’s previous slot-holder The Player. Back on September 24, the now-shuttered Wesley Snipes series came off the premiere of the highly promoted Heroes Reborn. With 8.57 million tuning in, Shades was also the first 10 PM Thursday viewership win that NBC has seen against ABC and CBS since late March 2007.
That other J. Lo-starring show of the night had a harder ride. The second-highest-rated show of the night, American Idol dropped 16% in the key demo from the second night of its 14th season on January 8 last year. Last night’s two-hour show was the worst a second night of the series has ever done, which comes after the all-time-low premiere Wednesday. Compared to that season opener, last night’s Idol stumbled 13% in the demo. Still, Fox won the night in adults 18-49 and in total viewers with 9.99 million.
Of course, Shades Of Blue wasn’t the only debut on the Big 4 last night as the midseason hits its stride. In a night of originals, Angel From Hell (1.6/5) had its opener on CBS at 9:30 PM. While down 11% from its Mom (1.8/6) lead-in (which matched the demo season high of its last original December 17), the Jane Lynch-starring comedy tied the 18-49 results that 2 Broke Girls had in the slot in its last original last year.
Looking for debut comparisons, the best candidate is The Odd Couple, which had its debut at 8:31 PM on February 19 last year. With a Big Bang Theory lead-in and a bit of spillover, the Matthew Perry- and Thomas Lennon-starring reboot of the classic 1970s comedy pulled in a 3.1/10 rating with 13.57 million viewers. Obviously that was far better than AFH, 93% better in fact among the key demo.
With the powerhouse Shondaland shows not back yet, ABC gave its rivals a bit of an easy ride last night. Beyond The Tank (1.0/3) made its regular 8 PM Thursday premiere, while newbie My Diet Is Better Than Yours (0.7/2) shed some ratings weight for the net with a weak start. The Shark Tank spinoff was down 9% from its 10 PM Season 2 debut on Tuesday.
The big boss of Thursday night was of course The Big Bang Theory (3.8/14), which was the top-rated show of primetime and, with an audience of 15.73 million, by far the most watched. The science geek sitcom was pretty steady with its sexy Star Wars-themed last original of December 17. Year-to-year, the Season 9 winter return of BBT was down a not insignificant 17% from its Season 8 return on January 8 last year. CBS’ other offerings of the night, Life In Pieces (2.2/8) and Elementary (1.2/4), were even and up 20%, respectively, from their last originals – that’s a season high for the Sherlock Holmes modernization.
Comparing The Blacklist to the primo February 1 post-Super Bowl slot of its Season 2 winter return last year is puerile. Still, the James Spader show bopped up 7% in the demo from its last original November 19. That small bump pushed the drama to its best demo result since the 1.8/6 rating of the Season 3 premiere of October 1 drew. Starting off NBC’s night, the winter return of Heroes Reborn (1.0/4) slipped 9% from its last original on November 19.
The CW was all encores last night.