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With the first official week of the 2018-19 TV season well underway, a couple of new shows have shown out strong in their premieres, while veteran network series are, for the most part, having a tougher time regaining their audiences.
Here’s a rundown of what went well and what went badly for the networks in the opening days of the season.
New NBC dramas. Manifest delivered the best 18-49 rating of any new series thus far with a 2.2 on Monday — building on its Voice lead-in and giving the network its best showing in the 10 p.m. Monday spot (sports excluded) since November 2015. New Amsterdam didn’t do quite as well, but its 1.8 is good for the second-best debut of the week and is 50 percent above the network’s time-period average last season. The two shows are NBC’s best drama premieres since the debut of This Is Us.
Fox’s Monday lineup. The Resident (1.1 in the 18-49 demo) premiered above its Monday average in 2017-18, and 911 (1.6) came in on par with its season one average. The latter also had an NFL-assisted series high of 2.6 on Sept. 23 (rising to a three-day series high of 3.4 in delayed viewing) a day before the official start of the season.
This Is Us. Though it was down almost a full point from the season two premiere (3.0 vs. 3.9) — the NBC show’s top-rated episode ever aside from the post-Super Bowl installment — it’s hard to fault This Is Us. It will in all likelihood be the No. 1 non-sports show of the week in adults 18-49.
Thursday Night Football. Fox’s first Thursday NFL broadcast (14.45 million viewers, 4.8 in adults 18-49) is essentially even with the same night in 2017 on CBS (14.62 million, 4.8). That’s the case across NFL telecasts as a whole too: Ratings for the first three weeks of the season are about even with 2017 after declining each of the past two seasons.
Last Man Standing and The Cool Kids. With a likely assist from heavy promotion during TNF, the revived and relocated (from ABC) Last Man scored big Friday with a 1.8 in the 18-49 demo — its best same-day rating since 2012. The Cool Kids held onto most of that audience and premiered to a 1.5.
Chicago times three. NBC’s all-Chicago Wednesday lineup did not pull huge demo ratings, averaging 1.2 among the 18-49 crowd. But just about all those viewers hung around all night, giving NBC a 27 percent bump in total viewers year to year.
FBI. The Dick Wolf-produced latest addition to CBS’ alphabet soup of procedurals fit very nicely into the network’s Tuesday lineup, matching Bull‘s 2017 premiere in adults 18-49 (1.3) and snagging better than 10 million viewers.
Survivor. With the start of its 37th cycle, and its 20th year on the air, the dean of competition shows came within a tenth of a point of matching last fall’s premiere and tied the spring cycle’s debut.
A reboot and a revival. Neither the retooled, comma-less Magnum P.I. (1.2 in the demo) nor the return of Murphy Brown (1.1) made much noise for CBS. Both shows pulled in decent-sized total audiences (8.12 million for Magnum, 7.5 million for Murphy), but neither got the initial pop pre-sold titles have in recent years.
ABC’s Wednesday. Veteran comedies The Goldbergs (1.4 in 18-49s), American Housewife (1.2) and Modern Family (1.6) all posted their lowest season premiere ratings to date. Newcomer Single Parents (1.3) did fine within the context of that block — but again, that context is “lowest-rated premieres to date.” At 10 p.m., new drama A Million Little Things didn’t improve on Designated Survivor‘s year-ago rating (1.1) and is tied with Murphy Brown for the lowest series premiere through Thursday.
Fox’s Tuesday. The network notes that Lethal Weapon‘s premiere was the most-watched fall Tuesday 9 p.m. telecast on Fox since 2015. But that’s comparing the drama to Scream Queens and The Mick, niche shows that were canceled for being niche shows. Lethal Weapon fell by a third vs. last season’s premiere in adults 18-49, and The Gifted stumbled 40 percent from its series debut.
The Voice and Dancing With the Stars. Both nights of both veteran talent competitions fell by more than 20 percent year to year.
Network declines. Over the first four nights, ABC is down by an average 27.5 percent year to year, NBC 16 percent and CBS 12.5 percent (with Thursday compared to the debut of its regular lineup in November 2017). Fox is way up (87 percent), thanks almost entirely to Thursday Night Football; its Monday-Wednesday slates are off by 10 percent on average (with Monday’s premieres compared to week two of 2017-18, when its regular slate debuted).
Oct. 1, 10 a.m. Updated with Last Man Standing and The Cool Kids premiere ratings.
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