Snapshot, updated with finals 2 PM: New series premieres: Young Sheldon (CBS, 3.8 in 18-49, up from 3.7 in the fast nationals, 17.2 million viewers in preview), The Good Doctor (ABC, 2.2, 11.22 million, after downward adjustment over NFL pre-emptions), Me, Myself & I (CBS, 1.6, adjusted down a tenth, 7.5 million), The Brave (NBC, 1.3, adjusted down a tenth, 6 million); Returning series premieres: The Big Bang Theory (4.1, up from 3.9 in the fast nationals, +8%, 17.7 million) tops night, The Voice, Scorpion, Kevin Can Wait down.
We have the first potential fall breakouts, with two new series scoring impressive premiere numbers on the opening night of the 2017-18 broadcast season, CBS comedy Young Sheldon and ABC drama The Good Doctor, both examples of feel-good fare with heart that has done well on TV as evidenced by the success of This Is Us.
Before we go over the stats for the BIG Young Sheldon debut, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the show that made that debut possible, The Big Bang Theory, which both spawned the spinoff series and provided a strong launchpad for it. Fueled by a cliffhanger in the May finale, BBT opened its 11th season with 4.1 adults 18-49 rating and 17.65 million viewers, up from a 3.9 and 16.97 million in the fast nationals. That was up 8% in the demo versus the fast national for the hit comedy’s season premiere last fall. (BBT almost always gets adjusted up in the finals, which likely will be the case again later today.)
It’s been very hard for CBS to find a comedy that can take full advantage of the massive BBT lead-ins, with a 70%+ retention usually a reason for celebration. Spinning off BBT turned out to be the way to go, with the preview of Young Sheldon (3.8, 17.21 million in the finals, up from 3.7, 16.57 million in the fast nationals) behind the BBT season opener last night almost matching the delivery of the mothership series.
Young Sheldon marked the biggest comedy premiere on any network in total viewers since CBS’ 2 Broke Girls in 2011 and the biggest comedy premiere on any network in adults 18-49 since CBS’ The Crazy Ones, starring the late Robin Williams in 2013, which also followed BBT. Young Sheldon also improved significantly on the premiere in the time slot of CBS’ Kevin Can Wait last September (2.6 in 18-49, 11.2 million). The other concern for CBS is that Young Sheldon will be kept on the bench for several weeks following its red-hot preview until relaunching on Thursday post-football.
As for Kevin Can Wait, its second-season opener at 9 PM — featuring the controversial killing off of Kevin’s wife following the decision to let go of co-star Erinn Hayes and bring in Leah Remini — averaged a 2.3 18-49 rating and 10.1 million viewers, down a modest 12% in the demo vs. the series opener last year.
The second new CBS comedy series, Me, Myself & I, premiered to an OK 1.6 in 18-49, adjusted down a tenth from the fast nationals, and 7.5 million, while Scorpion‘s debut raised a flag (1.0, 5.7 million). It was down 33% from last fall’s opener to an all-time low in the demo and last-place finish at 10 PM against all-new competition.
The other strong new series debut last night belonged to ABC’s new medical drama The Good Doctor, from House creator David Shore and Daniel Dae Kim. It is currently at 2.4 in 18-49 and 11.8 million viewers but likely will undergo downward adjustments in the finals, as much as -0.2 to -0.3. It settled at a 2.2, an impressive start for a 10 PM drama, especially the way it built onto its Dancing with the Stars lead-in (currently 1.4, down a two-tenths from last week, 8.7 million).
The Good Doctor ranks as ABC’s most watched Monday drama debut in 21 years, since Dangerous Minds in September 1996, and highest rated in 18-49 in 8.5 years, since Castle in March 2009. Vs. the launch of the now-defunct legal drama Conviction in the slot last year, The Good Doctor was up +115% in total viewers and +144% in adults 18-49 .
The Good Doctor towered in the 10 PM hour over Scorpion as well as new NBC drama The Brave (1.3 after downward adjustment in the finals, 6 million).
The Brave is the first of three broadcast military drama series set to debut this fall, testing the audience’s appetite for armed forces-themed/patriotic series. So far, results are not very encouraging. The Brave ranked below recent NBC drama premieres in the post-Voice Monday 10 PM slot, including last fall’s Timeless (1.9), which had a similar lead-in from Week 2 of The Voice.
The Brave followed the season premiere of the Emmy-winning singing competition (2.6, 10.4 million), which somewhat inexplicably fell 21% year-to-year after holding steady the last two falls to hit an all-time low for a Voice season opener.
Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance (0.5, 1.9 million) was off by a tenth week-to-week and down double-digits from its previous finale.
With the BBT/Young Sheldon combo, CBS won the first night of the season in both 18-49 (2.3) and total viewers (10.4 million).
On ESPN, the Dallas Cowboys- Arizona Cardinals Monday Night Football game scored a 9.3 metered-market result and the best ratings of the season so far.