TV Long View: Midseason's Delayed-Viewing Champs

Manifest- Unaccompanied Minors - Publicity Still - H 2020
Peter Kramer/NBC

NBC's drama Manifest remained one of the top-performing shows on network TV in delayed viewing during its second season. Although its linear and subsequent delayed-view ratings are down year to year, the series was consistent in racking up big numbers after it first aired.

That overperformance in Nielsen's post-air metrics extended past the seven-day window as well. Manifest also racked up the biggest ratings gains in the ratings service's long-tail 35-day measurement.

Among 29 shows that debuted after Jan. 1, Manifest had the largest overall gains in weeks two through five after an initial airing. The portion of its total 35-day audience that came after the first week is also among the biggest for any midseason show.

Several NBC shows, in fact, are among the better long-tail performers among the midseason crop. Good Girls and Brooklyn Nine-Nine are near the top of the long-tail gains among adults 18-49, and the former, along with Manifest and The CW's Legends of Tomorrow, are the only three series that get 10 percent of their 35-day total audience after the first week.

All figures cited here are through March 15, the last period for which 35-day ratings are available, and do not include multiplatform viewing. The week of March 9-15 also, coincidentally, was the last one before the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread stay-at-home orders. Although overall TV use has gone way up in the weeks since then, delayed viewing has remained fairly consistent during that time.

Manifest doubled its initial audience, both in the key ad demographic of adults 18-49 and in total viewers, after seven days. The next four weeks brought smaller gains, but they're still larger for the show than for any of its midseason counterparts. It adds 0.3 points to its 18-49 tally in weeks two through five (going from 1.5 to 1.8) and 1.04 million viewers to bring its 35-day tally to 8.73 million. A number of other shows grow by 0.2 in the 18-49 demo, but no other midseason series adds more than 684,000 from days eight to 35.

About 17 percent of Manifest's 35-day rating in adults 18-49, and about 12 percent of its total audience, comes after the first week. In the demo, only Good Girls and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (18 percent each) have a higher share of their rating after the first week — and both have substantially smaller seven-day ratings (0.9 apiece vs. 1.5 for Manifest).

In total viewers, Legends of Tomorrow grows by 10.5 percent after seven days, and Good Girls goes up by an additional 10 percent. But the number of viewers each show adds — 172,000 for Legends, 389,000 for Good Girls — pales in comparison to Manifest's number.

The top 35-day performers from midseason also include Fox's Lego Masters, which ties CBS' Criminal Minds for the second-largest 18-49 bump of 0.9; CBS' FBI: Most Wanted, which adds the second-most viewers, 3.94 million; and ABC's first-year drama For Life, which doubles in both measures.

As a group, the midseason shows grew by 63 percent in adults 18-49 and 51 percent in viewers from initial airing to 35 days. Both are below the gains for fall shows through March 15 (83 percent and 58 percent). That's consistent with the lower delayed-viewing levels at three and seven days for midseason shows.

Below are the top 10 midseason shows ranked by 35-day gains.

Adults 18-49

Show Network Live +SD Live +7 Live +35 % of total
after day 7
Manifest NBC 0.7 1.5 1.8 16.7%
Criminal Minds CBS 0.7 1.4 1.6 12.5%
Lego Masters Fox 1.1 1.8 2.0 10%
The Bachelor ABC 1.8 2.4 2.5 4%
For Life ABC 0.6 1.2 1.3 7.7%
911: Lone Star Fox 1.2 1.8 1.9 5.3%
Good Girls NBC 0.4 0.9 1.1 18.2%
Station 19 ABC 1.0 1.5 1.6 6.3%
FBI: Most Wanted CBS 0.7 1.2 1.3 7.7%
Last Man Standing Fox 0.8 1.2 1.4 14.3%


Total Viewers in Millions

Show Network Live +SD Live +7 Live +35 % of total
after day 7
Manifest NBC 3.76 7.69 8.73 11.9%
FBI: Most Wanted CBS 6.41 9.73 10.34 6%
Criminal Minds CBS 4.78 8.01 8.68 7.8%
Tommy CBS 4.67 7.53 8.07 6.6%
911: Lone Star Fox 6.28 9.09 9.67 6%
Deputy Fox 3.63 6.29 6.89 8.6%
Last Man Standing Fox 4.26 6.54 7.23 9.5%
For Life ABC 2.72 4.99 5.48 8.9%
Lego Masters Fox 3.43 5.54 6.06 8.5%
Station 19 ABC 6.32 8.46 8.90 5%


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