NBC Wins 2013 Premiere Week by Wider Margin, DVR a Bigger Talking Point for All

"Sunday Night Football," rising ratings for "The Voice" and several solid premieres give the Peacock its best performance in five years, while all networks tout the first round of Live+Three Day bumps.
Brownie Harris/FOX; Will Hart/NBC; ABC/Richard Foreman
"Sleepy Hollow," "The Blacklist," and "Agents of SHIELD"

The new fall season has every network in the Big Four bragging about something, with each launching at least one strong premiere at the top of the TV calendar. But NBC has the most to boast. Last season's third-place network notched its second consecutive premiere week win in the targeted adults 18-49 demographic, improving 7 percent from last year.

Growth on its own is enough to brag about. Second-place ABC is also up, by 5 percent, but both CBS and Fox are down from the same week last season -- though the latter had the distinction of premiering the bulk of its lineup one and two weeks prior to the season's official start.

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All told, NBC averaged a 3.1 rating among adults 18-49. The rating, a credit to Sunday Night Football, The Voice and incoming drama The Blacklist, bests its closest competition (ABC) by a margin of 35 percent. That's the biggest week one advantage since 1997. The peacock placed second among total viewers with 9.713 million, a 19 percent improvement from last year.

ABC's growth to a 2.3 demo rating has a lot to do with the season's highest-rated premiere to date in Agents of SHIELD (4.7 adults). Network standbys Grey's Anatomy and Modern Family joined most of the returning scripted fare in their dips, and Dancing With the Stars scored its highest ratings during its out-of-season premiere. The network was up 4 percent among total viewers (7.99 million).

Retaining its viewership win with an average 10.377 million viewers (down 3 percent), CBS tied Fox's demo average with a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49. Returning mega-hit The Big Bang Theory and a strong debut of The Crazy Ones pushed the dial the most, but the network was still off 8 percent from last season.

All freshmen and most returning series, save Glee, were back on Fox before the premiere week. But the robust second outing of Sleepy Hollow and improved returns for The X Factor gave the network an average 2.2 adults rating and 6.012 million viewers -- respective declines of 15 and 13 percent, the most of any network.

Positive overnight ratings have not deterred the Big Four from making a bigger deal out of time-shifted growth. And with most of premiere week now accounted for in Live+Three Day returns, the biggest growers are also, largely, the biggest Same Day performers.

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NBC's The Blacklist notched a solid impressive 34 percent lift for its first episode, growing to a cumulative 5.1 rating among adults 18-49. The show also had the distinction of adding more raw viewers in three days of playback than any other series to date, climbing an additional 4.36 million. Its time-slot competitor and fellow freshman, CBS' Hostages, made a step in compensating for its soft premiere with premiere week's biggest percentage gain, 50 percent, to a 2.7 adults rating.

Also on CBS, The Crazy Ones improved by 31 percent in the demo, rising 1.2 points to a cumulative 5.1 rating.  

SHIELD's DVR performance is thus far in line with its strong Live+Same showing. It jumped 1.8 points (38 percent) to a cumulative 6.5 rating in the demo. ABC neighbor and returning drama Nashville helped make up for its softer premiere with more time shifting than for its series premiere a year ago. It rose 45 percent.

Facing more competition in their second outings, Fox's freshmen also saw their Live+Three growth improve from premieres. Sleepy Hollow jumped 48 percent during premiere week, while Brooklyn Nine-Nine rose by 39 percent and Dads grew by 27 percent. New Girl matched Sleepy Hollow as the network's most-time-shifted series, growing 48 percent itself.

The next barometer for premiere week comes with the arrival of Live+Seven Day ratings in mid-October. Networks still aren't selling advertising past three days after original broadcasts, but those ratings will ultimately make up the season averages they tout down the line.