The broadcast premiere week started off with fireworks as several breakout hits emerged Monday and Tuesday — The Blacklist, Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Sleepy Hollow — and some veteran series returned up year-to-year. But the euphoria subsided as the days went on and the week ended on a whimper, with a weak series launch (ABC’s Betrayal) and across-the-board ratings losses for everyone on Sunday. Here is a look at the four broadcast networks’ performance and a few Premiere Week takeaways:
Strong showing on Monday-Wednesday plus Sunday Night Football was enough for NBC to repeat as the No. 1 network during premiere week in adults 18-49 with its best premiere week rating in five years, 3.1, and the only net to post year-to-year increases in both 18-49 (up 7%) and total viewers (9.7 million, up 19%). What’s more, NBC widened its margin of victory from last year to 35%, the largest for any network in 16 years. And the bump came solely from the entertainment side as premiere week’s SNF was actually down 16% year-to-year (but still the top program of the week by a wide margin). With the exception of Revolution, NBC’s Monday-Wednesday returning shows were all up, led by The Voice. And NBC launched a solid new drama in The Blacklist, which posted the best 18-49 rating for a regular 10 PM drama (3.8) in the past year and the biggest viewer Live+3 increase ever, gaining 4.4 million persons in the first 3 days of DVR viewing. NBC’s problem spot once again is Thursday night where only one series, newbie The Michael J. Fox Show, broke the 2 demo rating threshold.
One swallow may not make a spring but one big hit can make a good fall. Look at ABC, which finished second in premiere week among adults 18-49 (2.3, up 5%), up from No. 4 last September, despite disappointing launches for Lucky 7 (1.3) and Betrayal (1.5), the lowest-rated series premieres so far this season with numbers that immediately open the cancellation door. But the network put all of its eggs in the Marvel basket and scored big with Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. which opened with a 4.7 18-49 rating, the top-rated new series and the biggest drama premiere in almost four years. The show also became a shining example of the new paradigm by almost doubling its live TV audience via repeat airing, DVR and online viewing in the first several days as more networks, led by Fox, are pushing multi-platform viewing stats. But there is a lot of reason for concern in the ABC executive suite as most of the network’s returning shows came back down, including flagships Modern Family and Grey’s Anatomy, and besides the S.H.I.E.L.D.-boosted The Goldbergs, the rest of the network’s new comedies, Trophy Wife and Back In The Game, had tepid debuts, and the upcoming Super Fun Night is already raising a red flag with the decision to scrap the pilot episode. In total viewers, ABC (8 million) was down 4%. (more…)