Snapshot, updated with final ratings: New series premieres: ABC’s Single Parents (1.3 Live+Same Day rating in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers), ABC’s A Million Little Things (1.1, 5.1 million); Returning series premieres: Chicago Med, Chicago PD and Survivor were within a tenth of their fall 2017 openers; all other shows suffered bigger year-to-year drops.
Before we jump into some ratings analysis, let’s take a moment and consider this as a testament of how obsolete live viewing is becoming: It’s Premiere Week, the broadcast networks have spent millions of dollars on marketing, and not a single show was able to crack the 2.0 Live+Same Day adults 18-49 ratings mark last night.
The only Big 4 network to introduce new series Wednesday this fall is ABC with comedies Single Parents and drama A Million Little Things. Neither was a standout or a flop in their debuts.
For a second year, ABC’s returning comedy lineup was down double-digits across the board from last fall’s premieres while on par with their previous season averages. The Goldbergs (1.4, 5.1 million) was down -22% year-to-year in 18-49, American Housewife (1.2, 4.4 million) was down -25% from its fall 2017 debut as it moved from 9:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Tentpole Modern Family (1.6, 5.4 million) was down -24% from its Season 9 but remained ABC’s highest rated and most watched program of the night. (The Emmy winning comedy is looking good to get a final 11th season.) At 9:30 PM, newbie Single Parents posted a 1.3 in 18-49 and 4.9 million viewers for a 81% demo lead-in retention, up from 76% for the American Housewife season opener in the half-hour last Premiere Wednesday.
#TBT: It was only four years ago that Black-ish premiered in in the post-Modern Family slot to a 3.3 in 18-49 and 10.8 million, holding 99% in total viewers and 89% in 18-49 of its Modern Family season premiere lead-in (3.7, 10.9 million).
ABC’s new ensemble drama A Million Little Things (1.1, 5.1 million) had a bit of a rough start. Some of it was lead-in related — for instance, NBC used the highly-rated This Is Us on Tuesday to draw viewers to the similar in tone 10 PM newcomer New Amsterdam with relentless promos. A Million Little Things’ Live+SD demo delivery matched the Season 2 premiere of Designated Survivor in the hour last fall, which had a little stronger lead-in and improved on the time slot season average as well as its lead-in viewership. We will have to wait and see what kind of delayed viewing bump the serialized drama gets.
What took so long? That was the first reaction when NBC in May announced a Chicago-branded Wednesday lineup. NBC brass at the time said that they had flirted with the idea in the past but felt Chicago Med was too young. “We thought it was a fun way to energize Wednesday,” outgoing NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt said in May.
#OneChicago launched with consistent ratings across the board: Chicago Med (1.2, 7.7 million), Chicago Fire (1.3, after an upward adjustment in the finals, 8 million) and Chicago PD (1.2, 7.1 million). All three series were not far off their fall 2017 openers, Chicago Fire, which last year followed the anticipated Will & Grace return on Thursday, was down two tenths, while the other two Chicago series shed just a tenth each in the demo. That is a solid delivery among a sea of 20%+ declines, and all three dramas were on par with their previous season averages. In a promising sign, Chicago Med actually improved on the Blacklist season premiere and average in the Wednesday 8 PM slot last year to log NBC’s best L+SD demo delivery in almost two years. NBC won the night in total viewers, edging CBS.
That may be because the eye network aired an all-unscripted lineup, with its dramas returning next week. After opting for a standard premiere week rollout of its Wednesday lineup last fall, CBS reverted to the combo of a supersized Big Brother finale and Survivor premiere, which it had employed the previous few years to potent 18-49 ratings results.
Survivor (1.7 after an upward adjustment, 7.8 million) was off by a tenth from the demo rating for its hourlong season premiere last fall, though Big Brother (1.6, 4.9 million) was down -27% in the demo and total viewers from its year-ago finale, which aired a week earlier. Still, the reality pair led CBS to a No. 1 finish in 18-49 for the night, tied with Fox.
Fox was paced by Empire, which ranked as the top program of the night in 18-49, opening its fifth season with a 1.9 in the demo and 6.1 million viewers. That was down -21% from last fall’s season opener in the demo but up from the season average and finale. The same goes for lead-out Star (1.4, after a downward adjustment 4.7 million), down -22% from its Season 2 debut behind Empire but up from its season average.