TV Ratings: 'Good Place' and 'Kevin Can Wait' Open Well, 'The Voice' Holds and 'Big Bang' Dips

NBC wins the night, though CBS' comedy stalwart earns the biggest showing in the key demo — despite returning down 25 percent.
From left: Kristin Bell of 'The Good Place,' Miley Cyrus of 'The Voice,' Kevin James of 'Kevin Can Wait'

Monday marked the real start of the 2016-17 TV season after several false (and lackluster) starts. The night marked the premieres of NBC's The Good Place and CBS' Kevin Can Wait and the returns of dominant broadcast franchises The Big Bang Theory and The Voice.

CBS' Big Bang Theory was unsurprisingly the night's biggest player, albeit one that returned down nearly 25 percent from its Monday premiere a year ago. TV's top-rated comedy kicked off its tenth season with a 3.6 rating among adults 18-49. It also pulled in 15.4 million viewers.

A lot of CBS chips are riding on Kevin James' sitcom return — and, fresh out of the gate, it pulled the same scores as last year's comedy to debut in the spot. Kevin Can Wait averaged a 2.6 rating among adults 18-49 and 11.2 million viewers. In the key demo and total viewers, that's dead even with 2015 entry Life in Pieces. It was followed by a robust follow-up for two-parter The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey. After nearly outshining the Emmys on Sunday night, the second two-hour installment dipped 10 percent to a still-strong 1.8 rating in the key demo.

NBC presented a very different version of The Voice on Monday. The season premiere of the Emmy winner, with new mentors Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus, helped assure a nightly victory for the network that just won the last calendar year in the key demo. The Voice did not get a lift with the new talent, but it did the next best thing by holding steady with an average 3.3. rating among adults 18-49 over the course of its two-hour premiere. Compared with last fall, that's only off by two-tenths of a point.

It was good news for The Good Place. NBC's freshman comedy, which will shift to Thursdays, got a favorable sampling with a 2.3 rating among adults 18-49 for its hour premiere. The pilot, which aired at 10 p.m, tied Kevin Can Wait with a 2.6 rating in the key demo. Also of note for NBC, Jimmy Fallon's first Tonight Show of the new season hit a five-month Monday ratings high with an appearance by Hillary Clinton. Tonight earned an overnight 2.8 rating among metered-market households, its best showing since April. (It also bested last Thursday's show with Donald Trump. That pulled a 2.6 households rating.)

NBC and CBS had the night's only series launches, but the rest of the Big Four did air originals. Fox offered up season premieres for Gotham and Lucifer, with its Batman drama dipping four-tenths of a point from its year-ago premiere to a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49. Fox, it should be remembered, has stopped acknowledging live-plus-same-day ratings in favor of time-shifted and multiplatform stats — as all networks turn their attention in that direction — so its next-day scores should be taken with an extra grain of salt. Lucifer still managed to build on its lead-in, ever so slightly, averaging a 1.3 rating among adults 18-49. That's down from its post-X-Files debut earlier in the year. 
Over on ABC, Dancing With the Stars took a four-tenths of a point hit after last week's premiere. It averaged a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 in the face of the heavier competition. The network packaged it with a new episode of Match Game, though its 0.9 rating among adults 18-49 was unmoved from recent Sunday showings. 
It was a good night for broadcast overall. With the Emmys' new lows and humbled starts for all primetime NFL franchises, the week-plus leading into the fall season was not the most optimistic. As has become the trend, the waiting game will take much longer this year. Networks will wait for time-shifting and digital lifts and see how shows perform in their regular time slots once pre-planned moves to other nights or time slots take place.