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This story first appeared in the Oct. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Broadcast television executives continue to preach patience, but early data from the first two weeks of the 2015-16 season paints a clear picture of which new series are thriving — and which already are on borrowed time.
Clear breakout Blindspot shows no signs of slowing in time-shifted viewership: The second episode of the NBC drama garnered an even bigger bump than the premiere, rising 63 percent in live-plus-3-day data to average a 4.2 rating among adults 18-to-49. Meanwhile, no amount of DVR use likely can enliven Fox’s Minority Report; the second episode of the futuristic procedural couldn’t crack a 1.3 rating in the key demo after three days.
It’s becoming a familiar dichotomy of fall: Time-shifting makes a good ratings narrative even better (see ABC’s Quantico) and can boost series with mixed results (Fox’s Scream Queens, NBC’s Heroes Reborn), but it does little to change the conversation around shows that need it most (sorry, NBC’s The Player and ABC’s Blood & Oil). With 15 new Big Four scripted series officially in the fray, it’s safe to evaluate how the premieres stacked up against one another, even if full live-plus-7-day numbers remain a few weeks away.
Now that the launches are over, the fates of the healthy and the feeble depend on retention (CBS’ middle-of-the-pack Limitless, for one, is sitting pretty because it has lost zero steam). “Week three and week four are much more important than week one,” says media analyst Brad Adgate. “Empire proved last season that you can still grow an audience if you have a good show and allow people to catch up on earlier episodes.”
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