As you know, it doesn't matter how good or bad a show is, all that really matters is how many people watch it. A still image of an elephant farting could be on the air for 20 years if 10 million people watched it every week. Conversely, there's a reason great shows like Trophy Wife and Awake barely got through one season. Eyeballs are the only currency that networks care about, and the dreaded and only-sorta-accurate Nielsen ratings determine which shows will stick around and which will be kicked off the air faster than a wardrobe malfunction.
We're looking at the ratings performances of the new shows from premiere week, and it tells an all-too common story: some shows can already start planning second seasons, some series can pack it up, and some need to do some work to stick around. I've divided each new network show's performance into one of four categories, and added a little analysis where necessary. I'll also do the same for the next two weeks of premieres.
(All data taken from the good people at TV By the Numbers. All data is final except for Sunday's, which wasn't available as of press time.)
Blindspot (NBC, Monday at 10pm) 10.61 million viewers, 3.1 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic
The Muppets (ABC, Tuesday at 8pm) 9.01 million, 2.9 rating
Rosewood (Fox, Wednesday at 8pm) 7.54 million, 2.4 rating
Quantico (ABC, Sunday at 10pm) 7.1 million, 1.9 rating
Blindspot is the early breakout hit thanks to sitting in after The Voice, ads every five seconds, and buses plastered with Jaimie Alexander's naked and tatted-up bod. It's a big improvement over State of Affairs last year in the same time slot (8.69/2.2), but not quite as good as The Blacklist in the same situation two years ago (12.58/3.8). It's probably safe to assume a full-season order and a second season renewal already (UPDATE: NBC has ordered nine more scripts, which is practically a full-season order). Meanwhile, ABC has to be pleased with The Muppets, which notched the second-highest rating of any new series last week and did better than any of ABC's Wednesday night comedies not named Modern Family. How much of that audience was just curiosity? Rosewoodsurprised with its numbers, and proved that even a lead-in to Empire can feel the boost of network television's biggest show. But can the good vibes last? Probably not. But who would have guessed Rosewood would do almost as good as Scream Queens and Minority Report combined? Quantico sneaked on to the "good" list because it was ABC's biggest show of the night and improved greatly on its Blood & Oil lead-in (6.3/1.4), something that usually doesn't happen, especially in that difficult time slot. That means the sexy Priyanka Chopra marketing worked and viewers are actively seeking this show out. I have a feeling this could be a sneaky hit for ABC and help fix its Sunday night desert.
Life in Pieces (CBS, Monday at 8:30pm) 11.28 million viewers, 2.6 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic
Limitless (CBS, Tuesday at 10pm) 9.86 million, 1.9 rating
Heroes Reborn (NBC, Thursday at 8pm) 6.09 million, 2.0 rating
Yeah, the Life in Pieces numbers look great on the surface, but the new CBS single-camera comedy lost a huge chunk of its Big Bang Theory lead-in (18.20/4.7), and that is NOT good and below what The Millers did in its debut (13/3.3) after Big Bang last season. Expect even more deterioration this week. Limitless had a totally bland debut for CBS and did just barely better than Person of Interest in the time period last season. But the good news is that its ratings were higher than NCIS: New Orleans' in the hour before (1.7). And lastly, a 2.0 is nothing to throw your head in the oven over, but NBC must have expected better digits for Heroes Reborn given the marketing push and the original series' debut still making NBC execs smile with its 14.29 million viewers and 5.9 rating way back in 2006. The premiere also didn't face a full roster of competition, with The CW and Fox both airing repeats. This week's ratings, which will be the first with The Blacklistadded to NBC's Thursday block, will be something to keep an eye on.
Scream Queens (Fox, Tuesday at 8pm) 4.04 million viewers, 1.7 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic
The Player (NBC, Thursday at 10pm) 4.68 million, 1.2 rating
Blood & Oil (ABC, Sunday at 9pm) 6.3 million, 1.4 rating
With all the pre-season hype for Scream Queens (OMG SOCIAL MEDIA AND TWEETS AND STUFF), the numbers it put up must be a massive letdown for Fox. But it's not a total disaster, because Scream Queens has the early claim to gaining the most viewers of any new show when DVR numbers are added, bringing the total audience up to over 7 million viewers. And the viewers' median age is 36, a sparkling number for advertisers looking to throw money at Fox. It may be a discouraging start, but young people are lazy and watch shows on their own time, so this could be one of the first DVR hits of the new age of television and a prime example of why overnight numbers are becoming more and more obsolete. NBC's The Player struggled behind Heroes Reborn; can airing behind The Blacklist help it out this week? Let's hope so, it's a fun one. And surprise! People don't really want to see a drama about oil drilling in North Dakota. Blood & Oil dipped from itsOnce Upon a Time lead-in (1.8) and didn't do its Quantico lead-out (1.9) any favors. When a network sees a series do worse than the shows on either side of it, it will usually scramble to shake things up. Maybe that means swapping time slots, maybe that means something more drastic. Blood & Oil, don't be surprised if you feel a chill in the air.
Minority Report (Fox, Monday at 9pm) 3.10 million viewers, 1.1 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic
Given how terrible things have been going for networks recently, it wasn't actually a bad week for new shows! Except for Minority Report, which pulled a Lone Star with a dismal 1.1 rating. That's well below Gotham's 1.6 in the hour before, and half of its time-period competition in Scorpion (2.2). This is a disaster for Fox, no two ways about it. Up against The Voice and Monday Night Football, Fox should have seen this coming. How long until this is canceled in favor of Empire repeats?
What do you make of the numbers from Premiere Week?