Snapshot (updated with finals): New series premieres: ABC’s Notorious (1.1 in 18-49, adjusted down -0.1, 5.4 million), Fox’s Pitch (1.1, 4.2 million); Returning series premieres all down, with Rosewood (0.7) hitting series low, Chicago Med (1.4) tying series low; ABC’s Grey‘s Anatomy (2.5, adjusted up +0.1, 8.8 million viewers) is top entertainment program, CBS’ Thursday Night Football wins overall.
The honeymoon is over. After three nights of consistently solid new series premieres — all in the 2+ adults 18-49 rating range in Live+Same Day — we have the first soft debuts in ABC’s Notorious (1.1 after a downward adjustment from 1.2 in the fast nationals) and Fox’s Pitch (1.1).
'This Is Us' & 'Pitch' Reviews: Strong Starts For Throwback Tearjerker & Forward-Leaning Fastballs
Notorious‘ premiere delivery is particularly alarming because the series has not been received well by critics and because it squandered a big lead-in, holding onto just half of the Season 13 opener of Grey’s Anatomy.
Just like I gave a shoutout to Dick Wolf yesterday for keeping Law & Order: SVU relevant with a solid Season 18 debut, let’s do the same with Shonda Rhimes. Last season, she saw her 12-year-old Grey’s Anatomy emerge as ABC’s highest-rated drama. And by the looks of premiere week, that may well be the case again this season. The Season 13 premiere of the soapy medical drama opened with a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 8.6 million viewers. That is down a bit from last fall’s opener (2.8), which marked a post-McDreamy beginning for the series. But Grey’s will most likely be adjusted up in the finals and even without the adjustment (UPDATE: It did to 2.5), it was the dominant entertainment program Thursday night against CBS’ Thursday Night Football, with the next-highest delivery a 1.5 in 18-49 (NBC’s Superstore). Grey’s also was up from its May finale with its largest audience since October. It is the third highest-rated drama of the week so far, behind Fox’s Empire (4.2) and The Voice-fueled This Is Us on NBC (2.8).
Subbing for Scandal, Notorious was nestled between Shondaland’s Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder, which launched its third season with a 1.4 in 18-49, down sharply from last fall’s opener that drew a 2.6 following a strong Scandal premiere (3.2). The new drama is clearly hurting HTGAWM, which made up some ground, climbing by 0.3 from its Notorious lead-in. That probably can’t go on for long. The easiest solution would be to flip HTGAWM, if it is deemed suitable for 9 PM, and Notorious. While Notorious’ 1.1 premiere rating is just a fraction below that for ABC’s The Catch last spring, The Catch aired at 10 PM when HUT levels are generally lower and had a significantly smaller lead-in.
Fox had a pretty dismal Thursday with Rosewood and Pitch, Relocating from the pre-Empire Wednesday slot to Thursday 8 PM, Rosewood opened its sophomore season with an underwhelming 0.7 in 18-49 (3.6 million total viewers). That is less than a third than the series premiere last fall (2.4) and a new series low for the crime procedural. It also is the notorious 0.7 18-49 threshold, which I call Point of No Return as they has been no series on the Big 4 networks to hit that low mark and stay on the air for long.
The very low-rated Rosewood pretty much sealed the fate of newbies Pitch, which climbed from its lead-in but only managed a 1.1 in 18-49 and 4.3 million viewers. While this is cancellation-range premiere delivery — Fox’s Minority Report opened with a 1.1 last fall in route to a quick demise — Pitch has been well reviewed and should be given some lead-in support before it’s written off. Executives who have seen subsequent episodes are creatively very bullish on the show, which is taking a soapy turn after the pilot. Pitch co-creator Dan Fogelman is important to Fox sibling 20th TV — he is also behind the studio’s NBC breakout This Is Us — so expect the Fox network to do something to give it a better chance. How about summoning Bones at 8 PM to give Pitch more eyeballs? The venerable procedural, heading into its final season, last fall delivered twice the rating Rosewood managed in the 8 PM hour.
After strong openings for The Good Place and This Is Us, NBC got back to the Thursday funk, with no series able to get above the 1.5 demo mark in Live+SD.
NBC’s Thursday comedy block made a return after a break with the well received Superstore (1.4 in 18-49, 5.4 million) and The Good Place (1.3, 5.2 million) UPDATE: Both comedies were adjusted up a tenth in the finals to 1.5 for Superstore and 1.4 for The Good Place.
Superstore, which is on track for a full-season pickup with an order for nine additional scripts, was on par with its Season 1 finale. (As a midseason entry, it received a 13-episode second-season renewal last spring but that is expected to be expanded to 22.) UPDATE:Superstore received a full-season order Friday afternoon. There was no bump from the post-Olympics episode (3.0) but for NBC’s challenging 8 PM Thursday slot, the 1.4 was a solid showing, delivering the best demo rating since October 1, 2015 and largest audience since Premiere Week 2015.
The Good Place lost almost half of its preview rating behind The Voice on Monday (2.3). It showed solid 93% lead-in retention but 8:30 PM comedies are generally expected to hold and even grow. Because of Superstore’s relatable setting (big-box department store) and The Good Place‘s big stars (Ted Danson, Kristen Bell), there was hope NBC has found broad, widely watched comedies that had eluded it for years. For now, the critical darlings are more in line with recent niche performers, including cult favorite Parks & Recreation (co-created by The Good Place‘s Michael Schur).
Drama Chicago Med (1.4) had a bumpy transition to its Thursday 9 PM slot, tying a series low. Dick Wolf’s procedurals have been resilient; we will see if the latest Chicago offshoot will be able to adjust and thrive in its new environment. The bar seems pretty low in the 9 PM hour this fall, with Chicago Med ranking as the No. 1 entertainment program, topping newbies Notorious and Pitch. The Blacklist (1.3) also had a rough re-entry in its new 10 PM berth, down 28% from its 9 PM season premiere last fall in Live+SD.
The overall tepid ratings results for the entertainment fare on the broadcast networks came despite a blowout football game on CBS, showing that even without suspense, fans would rather watch football. The Thursday Night Football telecast on CBS and NFL Network of New England’s 27-0 victory over Houston drew a 12.5 household rating, +5% from last year’s second-week game. CBS is projected to easily win the night in 18-49 and total viewers.
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