Snapshot, updated with final numbers: New series premieres: Kevin Can Wait (2.6 in 18-49), The Good Place (2.6 at 10 PM, 2.0 at 10:30 PM, preview); Returning series premieres all down, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (3.8, -19%, 15.8 million) tops night.
With little fanfare, the broadcast networks are kicking off another season, bracing for another decline in Live+Same Day linear ratings, projected to be around -6%, in line with the year-to-year slippage last fall.
The declines were steeper for TV’s biggest comedy, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, which is showing its age, opening its 10th season — last under the current deal with CBS — with a 3.6 adults 18-49 rating and 15.4 million viewers in the fast nationals. That is down 23% in the demo and 15% in viewers from the Season 9 opener and the lowest 18-49 premiere number since the comedy’s sophomore season. Still, indicating how much broadcast Live+SD ratings have eroded since then, Big Bang, whose L+SD result will likely be adjusted in the finals, was the highest-rated program on the opening night of the 2016-2017 season, one of only two programs to crack the 3 demo rating mark last night. UPDATE: As it always does, Big Bang went up in the finals, by 0.2, rising to a 3.8 in the demo and trimming its year-to-year drop to -19% in 18-49 and -13% in viewers.
As the broadcast networks have largely struggled to launch strong comedies for the past few years, there was encouraging news last night, with both NBC’s The Good Place and CBS’ Kevin Can Wait off to solid starts. It didn’t hurt that both shows had been tracking well, fronted by popular stars — Ted Danson and Kristen Bell (The Good Place) and Kevin James (Kevin Can Wait) — and backed by major marketing campaigns.
The Good Place was previewed behind the The Voice, which opened its season following an Emmy win the night before for a second straight year to similar ratings results. With new judges Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys, The Voice (3.3 in 18-49, 12 million viewers) was off by 0.2 (-6%) from last fall’s debut. (It was up double-digits from the most recent season finale and the preview during the Summer Olympics.)
The Good Place (average of 2.3, 8.1 million viewers) from 10-11 PM drew higher numbers than last November’s preview of Superstore in the slot (1.8 in 18-49 with a 2.8 Voice lead-in). Superstore went on to become one of NBC’s strongest comedies in years and now will serve as a lead-in for Good Place in its regular Thursday 8:30 PM time slot. The Good Place won the 10 PM hour with NBC’s best in-season time-slot results since December. As can be expected, since comedies historically start slower than dramas, The Good Place was below the series premiere in the time slot of NBC’s Blindspot last fall (3.1).
CBS’ Kevin Can Wait (2.6 in 18-49, 11.2 million) matched the premiere demo result for last fall’s debut in the time slot of Life In Pieces, the only new CBS comedy last season to get a second season. (LIP‘s fast national was 2.7 as post-Big Bang comedies often get adjusted down in the finals, which also may happen to Kevin Can Wait). Because of the lower Big Bang premiere, Kevin Can Wait is showing better retention, (72% vs 55% for LIP in 18-49). That is important as, unlike LIP, which followed Big Bang for its entire freshman run, Kevin Can Wait will soon become CBS’ Monday 8 PM anchor when Big Bang returns to Thursday post-Thursday Night Football.
After a surprisingly strong start against Sunday Night Football and the Emmys on Sunday, the two-hour conclusion of CBS’ The Case Of JonBenet Ramsay, which featured a hypothesis of who killed Ramsay, slipped to still-respectable 1.8 in adults 18-49 (-14%) and 8.7 million viewers. That was up 6% in the demo from CBS’ performance with regular programming from 9-11 PM on premiere Monday last year.
Fox’s comic book Monday included the Season 3 opener of Gotham (1.2 in 18-49, 3.8 million), which tumbled 25% in the demo from its Season 2 premiere and likely won’t be able to make up the entire drop with its traditionally strong DVR/VOD showing. Lucifer (1.3, 4.4 million) perked up and continues to exceed expectations. It snuck in last midseason with little promotion but earned a second-season renewal with a solid showing. Lucifer built onto its Gotham lead-in last night and outperformed last fall’s debut in the time slot of the heavily marketed Minority Report (1.1 in 18-49), which benefited from a stronger lead-in. (Lucifer was down from its series debut, 2.4 in 18-49 but that followed a big 3.2 rating for the time slot debut of The X-Files, 3.2. Lucifer matched its Season 1 finale.)
Facing Premiere Monday competition, ABC’s Dancing With the Stars (1.7, 10.6 million) slipped 19% in the demo from its season debut last week. Match Game’s freshman finale (0.9) matched its most recent Sunday result.
NBC easily topped Monday in 18-49 with a 3.0, 0.7 ahead of No. 2 CBS (2.3). The race was tighter in total viewers (10.7 million for NBC vs. 10 million for CBS).
The likely winner of Premiere Monday will be ESPN with Week 2 of Monday Night Football looking certain to top both broadcast and cable.. In metered market results, the 8:15-11:45 PM Philadelphia Eagles-Chicago Bears matchup scored a 8.3 metered market rating. That’s down 11% from the Week 2 results of last season and a dip of 9% from the first game of last week’s kickoff of the ESPN franchise. But the Eagles vs. Bears battle was up 88% in MM numbers from the Game 2 of MNF’s season opener September 12 – that’s when the L.A. Rams were schooled in a 28-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.