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This story first appeared in the Nov. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
More than six weeks into the fall TV season, a significant number of new series — led by NBC’s The Blacklist, ABC’s Agents of SHIELD and Fox’s Sleepy Hollow — are making up for post-premiere dips with eye-popping DVR ratings.
With the thrill of fall premieres now vanishing in the rearview mirror, most broadcast series’ ratings have fallen in overnights, the latest version of the status quo. But time-shifting continues to tell a dramatically different story. New and old shows alike are gaining momentum in live-plus-3 and live-plus-7 DVR data, calling the parameters of what makes a winner into question.
Perhaps the only freshman series that can be dubbed an undeniable success at this point is The Blacklist. The James Spader vehicle, no doubt bolstered by a significant lead-in from The Voice, continues to grow its DVR audience to hold remarkably steady with its premiere sampling. Blacklist‘s latest live-plus-7 returns put it at a gross 5.0 rating among adults 18-to-49, a 67 percent improvement in the key demographic with a week of time-shifting included. “Blacklist is a broad show that continues to bring in many more viewers in live-plus-3 and certainly live-plus-7,” NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke tells THR. “It’s not just hanging on, it’s building and breaking its own records.”
Those records include adding north of 5 million viewers in live-plus-3, a feat no other U.S. series has yet to match. According to TiVo, it also tops season passes among new fall shows, with more than 16 percent of 370,000 sampled subscribers making the commitment — up from 11 percent after the premiere. Fellow freshmen dramas Agents of SHIELD and Sleepy Hollow join Blacklist in the top three, scoring weekly recordings in a respective 15 percent and 11 percent of the admittedly small TiVo sample.
But intent to watch, however flattering, does not necessarily translate to views. Sleepy Hollow remains a hit for Fox because it averages a 3.0 rating in overnights with no lead-in and improves 61 percent after a week of DVR for, most recently, a 4.4 rating in the demo. And while SHIELD‘s latest live-plus-7 performance puts it 21 percent below its heavily sampled premiere, it still is recouping an enviable 1.7 points for a cumulative 4.5 rating.
These days, jumps of that scale are neither the norm nor are they required to earn network confidence in an era of lowered expectations. For instance, ABC’s The Goldbergs scored a full season Nov. 1 even though the latest DVR data showed just a 44 percent improvement.
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