Snapshot: New series premieres: CBS’ The Unicorn (0.8 n 18-49 Live+Same Day rating, 6 million viewers), Carol’s Second Act (0.7, 5.97 million) and Evil (0.6 after a downward adjustment in the finals, 4.6 million); NBC’s Perfect Harmony (0.5, 2.6 million) and Sunnyside (0.4, 1.8 million).
While Fox had a good Premiere Thursday with a strong ratings start for Thursday Night Football, the night was a mixed bag for the other broadcast networks, with freshmen’s tough time breaking through continuing.
Veteran Grey’s Anatomy (1.5, 6.5 million) once again came through for ABC. The Season 16 premiere was down double digits from last fall’s opener but it was up from the most recent finale, ranking as the highest-rated entertainment program of the night in the demo (L+SD). It is among the top 3 scripted shows of Premiere Week so far.
ABC’s A Million Little Things (1.1, 5.0 million) continues to be a good companion for Grey’s, with improved lead-in retention over the season opener of Station 19 in the 9 PM slot last September. AMLT was even with its L+SD series premiere on Wednesday last fall and with most of its Thursday post-Grey’s outings last winter, including the season finale. The 1.1 ties an L+SD demo high for AMLT. The final season of How to Get Away With Murder (0.6, 2.5 million) at 10 PM was down a bit from last fall’s opener, steady with the finale.
I’ve tried to keep a perspective all week as acceptable L+SD ratings levels are rapidly going down. Here is more. Last September, AMLT and Thursday addition Murphy Brown‘s 1.1 adults 18-49 series premiere rating (L+SD) was considered so-so at best. So far this fall, not a single new series has been able to hit that mark. The streak continued last night with more rough entries for new series. What’s more, no returning series on CBS or NBC was able to crack the 1.1 L+SD demo rating last night either.
CBS’ Young Sheldon (1.0, 8.1 million) started its new role as 8 PM anchor hitting series lows without mothership The Big Bang Theory as a lead-in. Still, it was Thursday’s most watched entertainment program and the highest-rated comedy.
Coming off of Young Sheldon, new CBS single-camera comedy The Unicorn (0.8, 6 million) starring Walton Goggins was the highest-rated and most-watched new series launch last night.
Yes, hitting a 0.7 L+SD demo rating was once considered a death sentence for a show, inevitably leading to a swift cancellation. This fall, that has been a common starting point for freshman series. The latest to open to a 0.7 in the demo were CBS’ new Patricia Heaton comedy Carol’s Second Act (0.7, 5.97 million) at 9:30 PM and the network’s new Robert and Michelle King drama Evil (0.7, 4.6 million), which followed it at 10 PM.
Yet, the spooky drama, which should see a good delayed viewing bounce, was the highest-rated and most-watched program in the 10 PM hour, tied in the demo with NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, which launched its history-making 21st season.
While the 0.7 demo ratings had been the low benchmark for new series debuts so far this fall, that changed last night with the premieres of NBC comedies Perfect Harmony (0.5, 2.6 million) and Sunnyside (0.4, 1.8 million).
NBC brass had stressed that the network’s comedy brand is digitally leaning, focused on putting shows on the air that may not be strong linear performers but do great in streaming. Case in point, The Good Place, which opened its fourth and final season last night to a 0.7 in 18-49 and 2.4 million total viewers, the second-smallest L+SD audience on Thursday. Yet, it is one of NBC’s biggest hits with very strong digital play.
But even by that measure, Perfect Harmony and Sunnyside‘s premiere delivery is underwhelming, with Sunnyside particularly vulnerable.
UPDATE PM: In the finals, Young Sheldon adjusted up to a 1.1 L+SD rating in adults 18-49 while A Million Little Things adjusted down to a 1.0 rating and Evil to a 0.6 rating. Young Sheldon became the second highest-rated entertainment program of the night behind Grey’s.
Fox won Thursday night in total viewers and 18-49.