We should call this pre-Premiere Friday as the big newcomer on the night, Fox’s WWE SmackDown, along with NBC veteran The Blacklist, are not debuting until next week.
After what we have seen Premiere Week to date — double-digit year-to-year declines, Live+Same Day adults 18-49 ratings of 0.7, once a rarity and certain precursor to cancellation, now commonplace — we should not have high expectations for the lower-trafficked Friday night where there are fewer viewers available to begin with.
We got more of the same last night, with returning series coming back lower vs. last fall, often exceeding the average -7% in viewers and -12% in 18-49 year-to-year declines in HUT levels during Premiere Week.
On its new night, ABC comedy American Housewife (0.7 18-49 Live+same day rating, 3.4 million viewers) was able to match its finale, which aired on Wednesday where HUT levels are higher. It improved ABC’s Friday 8 PM time slot which housed Fresh Off the Boat last season, and tied CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 for the #1 spot on the night in 18-49 (L+SD).
Sliding to 8:30 PM to replace cancelled Speechless, Season 6 of Fresh Off the Boat, featuring returning star Constance Wu following her less-than enthusiastic renewal reaction (0.5, 2.4 million) was down just a notch from its opener last fall and its finale, matching Speechless‘ average L+SD delivery in the half-hour.
CBS made a change in its Friday drama lineup which has featured MacGyver, Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods for a long time.
As the new 8 PM anchor, Hawaii Five-0 (0.7, 6.8 million), which bid farewell to a popular cast member, was down -33% from last fall’s premiere in the demo but on par with its three most recent airings in its previous 9 PM slot and matched MacGyver‘s average in the 8 PM hour. In its Friday debut, Magnum P.I. (0.6, 6.4 million) was down a notch in the demo from its Season 1 finale on Monday but up in total viewers as it joined CBS’ formidable Friday lineup.
The lineup’s 10 PM stalwart, Blue Bloods (0.6, 7.8 million) marked its 200th episode with a Season 10 premiere that was off double digits from the Season 9 opener, finale and average but the veteran cop family drama once again ranked as the most watched program of the night.
CBS dominated Friday night in total viewers (7 million), more than doubling the L+SD average audience for the nearest competitor. In 18-49, CBS and ABC were tied for #1 at 0.6 rating.
NBC and Fox aired reruns of their new Monday dramas, Bluff City Law and Prodigal Son, respectively, to give them an extra boost. Fox also ran a WWE SmackDown special in preparation for the franchise’s debut on the network next Friday.