PREMIERE WEEK: DVR’s Power Grows, NBC Tops, ‘Revolution’ Leads Drama-Heavy Fall

Premiere Week used to be the ultimate make-it-or-break-it test for the broadcast networks, a barometer for which new shows will be hot that season and which will likely die. Today, more and more networks schedule their fall premieres outside of premiere week, diminishing the importance of the season’s opening week. Last year, some of the strongest new fall series — ABC’s Once Upon A Time and Suburgatory and NBC’s Grimm — all launched outside premiere week. This year, the list includes NBC’s Revolution and Go On, which premiered early, and ABC’s highest-profile new series, drama Nashville, which debuts next week.

Related: Fall 2012: As Broadcast Season Kicks Off, Where Do Networks Stand?

And then there is the rising power of DVRs, especially for returning series. During Premiere Week last year, four series — Two And A Half Men, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother and The Middle — were up double-digits from the previous fall’s premieres. This year, only one returning show, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, posted year-to-year gains, a testament to the series’ masterfully crafted cliffhangers. But many series are expected to make up ground in Live+7 as pundits point to this season as the one where shifted viewing reaches critical mass for a major impact on ratings reporting. So far, only Live+3 ratings for series that aired Monday-Wednesday last week are in. They show an average of 26% lift in adults 18-49, up from 20% last fall, as DVR contribution has crossed the one-quarter mark only three days after the shows’ original airing.

Not surprisingly, top-rated comedy Modern Family is the biggest ratings gainer for now, adding 1.75 in 18-49 (31.6%) for a stellar 7.3 Live+3 demo rating. Somewhat surprisingly, as viewers tend to overwhelmingly favor returning shows for their season passes, Modern Family‘s gain is tied for No. 1 with that for new NBC drama Revolution. Overall, the 1.75 Live+3 increase for Revolution represents the largest percentage gain for any Monday-Wednesday series (50.6%) and vaults the futuristic series to a 5.19 demo rating, the second-highest behind Modern Family last week. It edged the series that helped launch it, NBC’s The Voice (5.18). The big DVR jump on top of already strong ratings (with a 3.5 Live+Same Day rating in 18-49, Revolution was already the highest-rated freshman series of Premiere Week) is an indication that the big premiere for the JJ Abrams/Eric Kripke drama the week before was not a fluke; viewers liked what they saw and put the series on their DVR lists. (more…)

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