UPDATED with finals Snapshot: New series premieres: Prodigal Son (Fox, 1.0 rating in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers), Bluff City Law (NBC, 0.8, 4.8), Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS, 0.9 rating in 18-49 after upward adjustment in the finals, 5.9 million viewers), All Rise (CBS, 0.7, 6 million); Returning series: 9-1-1 holds steady amid a sea of declines.
As the industry is fixated on the launch of Disney+ in November, followed by the debuts of HBO+ and Peacock early next spring, the oldest TV platforms opened their new seasons Monday night in subdued fashion. Live+Same Day ratings are no longer a currency the , the broadcast networks use, though they still are an indicator of which shows are breaking through.
Fewer and fewer people watch television live — look no further for fresh evidence than the overnight Monday ratings. The start of a new broadcast season used to be an event, with viewers — who had been waiting for months to get fresh episodes of their favorite series — flocking to TV. Now there is fresh scripted content on multiple platforms year round, and the urgency to watch live is gone because all programs are available on demand.
As a result, we have the lowest Live+Same Day ratings for a Premiere Monday ever. Not a single show crossed the 2.0 adults 18-49 demographic rating mark — or came close to it.
NBC’s The Voice (1.7 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers L+SD) led the night in the demo with another season-premiere low, again down double digits from last fall’s opener.
With a hyped season premiere that ended with a tsunami cliffhanger, Fox’s 9-1-1 bucked the downward year-to-year trend as the bright spot in the Live+Same Day ratings chart this morning. After upward adjustment to the fast nationals, the Season 2 opener’s L+SD tally is 1.6 in 18-49, even with last fall’s premiere, and 7.1 million viewers. 9-1-1 was the highest-rated scripted series on the night and drew its largest Live+Same Day audience for a regularly scheduled episode.
9-1-1 also provided a strong launch pad for new Fox thriller drama series Prodigal Son. Coming off strong pre-launch tracking, the Michael Sheen starrer posted the highest L+SD 18-49 rating for a new series premiere last night, 1.0. It was a good start for Fox’s first full season as an independent network, scoring its highest-rated Premiere Monday (18-49 L+SD) in 10 years.
Of the other newcomers, new Chuck Lorre comedy Bob Hearts Abishola did the best after an upward adjustment in the finals, tying The Neighborhood as CBS’ highest-rated program of the night in 18-49 (0.9 rating) and ranking as the network’s most watched comedy of the night.
As recently as a couple of years ago, opening to a 0.7 demo rating in Live+SD was a death sentence for a show. Last night, CBS’ new legal drama All Rise debuted at that benchmark, while NBC’s new Jimmy Smits legal drama Bluff City Law launched just a tad higher, at 0.8 in the demo.
NBC already gave Bluff City Law a vote of confidence last month with a backup script order. NBCUniversal, which is entering the streaming wars with Peacock, increasingly has been focused on series’ digital performance, touting the enormous online success of modest linear TV performers like The Good Place, so we will have to wait and see how the family/legal series’ multi-platform play performs. But Bluff City Law’s tracking had been on the soft side, and its Voice lead-in retention was significantly below that of recent predecessors including Manifest, whose premiere built on The Voice‘s L+SD demo lead-in last fall.
The absence of The Big Bang Theory is acutely felt by the CBS Monday lineup. The hit comedy used to jump-start the night before moving to Thursday later in the fall, most recently scoring 2.9 in 18-49 (L+SD) last Premiere Monday. The Neighborhood instead served as an 8 PM anchor, delivering the highest 18-49 L+SD demo rating on CBS last night, 0.9. The 18-49 deliveries slipped later in the night. However, the network kept adding a eyeballs with each next show.
At 8:30 AM, Bob Hearts Abishola did not pop, which CBS probably would’ve liked to see for a Lorre series. But it was solid business, holding onto The Neighborhood‘s demo lead-in and building a bit in total viewers. At 9 PM, All Rise slipped in the demo but went up in viewers also grew its audience at the half-hour mark.
At 10 PM, both incumbents — ABC’s The Good Doctor (1.0) and CBS’ Bull (0.7) — were off from last fall’s openers, with the the former topping the hour and building on its Dancing with the Stars lead-in by 25% in the demo.
Here is a chart of the broadcast Monday fast national ratings.