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Stellar Opening for ‘Designated Survivor’ on ABC

'Speechless' on ABC and 'Lethal Weapon' on Fox Also Adequately Sampled

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Household Rating/Share
Fox: 6.2 rating/10 share, ABC: 5.8/10, CBS: 4.8/ 8, NBC: 4.6/ 8, CW: 0.9/ 1

-Percent Change From the Year-Ago Evening:
CW: +29, ABC: +21, CBS: + 2, Fox: -23, NBC: -12


“Survivor” (CBS), “Empire” (Fox) “Modern Family” (ABC), “Designated Survivor” (ABC)

-Honorable Mention:
“The Goldbergs” (ABC), “Law & Order: SVU” (NBC)

-Respectable Sampling”
“Speechless” (ABC), “Lethal Weapon” (Fox)

-Better Than Expected:
“Blindspot” (NBC)

-Losers (excluding repeats):
Nothing – everything was sampled on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

Ratings Analysis:
Fox got over the Wednesday “hump” in winning fashion thanks to drama “Empire,” which opened season three with a dominant 7.2 rating/11 share in the household overnights. But the debut of Kiefer Sutherland ABC 10 p.m. drama “Designated Survivor,” also with a 7.2/12, was the true standout. Comparably, “Designated Survivor” bested the season-premiere of competing “Chicago PD” on NBC (#2: 4.4/ 8) and the season-finale of “Big Brother” (#3: 3.8/ 7) on CBS by 64 percent and 89 percent, respectively. It built by 60 percent from the third season-premiere of lead-in “blackish” (#3: 4.5/ 7 at 9:30 p.m.). And it outdelivered the season-premiere of year-ago time period occupant “Nashville” (3.5/ 6 on 9/23/15) by 106 percent. Comparably, that 3.5 overnight household rating for “Nashville” translated into 4.91 million viewers and a 1.2 rating/4 share in adults 18-49, based on the Live + Same Day data.

Earlier in the evening on ABC was the launch of sitcom “Speechless,” which finished third at 8:30 p.m. with a 5.1/ 8 in the household overnights. Comparably, that was four percent above the 4.9/ 8 for the season-premiere of year-ago time period occupant “The Goldbergs” (which, now at 8 p.m., opened its fourth season also with a 4.9/ 8). That 4.9 in the overnight households for “The Goldbergs” last year translated into 7.62 million viewers and a 2.4/ 8 in adults 18-49 (based on the Live + Same Day data).

Also on ABC was the season premiere of “Modern Family,” which now in season eight (time flies!) scored a second-place 5.8/ 9 in the 9 p.m. half hour. Comparably, that was nine percent below the 6.4/10 season-opener one year earlier, and the expected adult 18-49 rating should hover around a 2.9.

The third series to premiere last night was Fox’s version of theatrical franchise “Lethal Weapon,” which finished third in the 8 p.m. hour with a 5.3/ 9 in the household overnights. Comparably, this was 11 percent below the 5.9/10 for the launch of year-ago time period occupant “Rosewood” (which resulted in 7.54 million viewers and a 2.4/ 9 in adults 18-49, again based on the Live + Same Day data). And the “Halo Effect” was in full force last night, with the second half-hour of “Lethal Weapon” (in anticipation of “Empire” at 9 p.m.) building by 12 percent (5.0/ 8 to 5.6/ 9).

“Empire,” meanwhile, dipped by a hefty 31 percent from the year-ago 10.4/17 season-opener.

On CBS, “Survivor” opened its 33rd edition (yes…time does indeed fly!) with a 5.7/ 9 in the household overnights from 8-9:30 p.m., which was six percent above the 5.4/ 9 year-ago season-premiere. We’ll call that unprecedented for a show this old. “Survivor” led into the season-finale of aforementioned “Big Brother” at a 3.7/ 9 from 9:30-11 p.m., which was right on par from one year earlier. As always, my complaint about the season-finale of summer addiction “Big Brother” is not giving the jury members enough time to answer the questions.

Over at NBC, new 8 p.m. anchor “Blindspot” finished fourth with a 4.3/ 7 in households. Comparably, this was just seven percent below the 4.6/ 8 for the week-ago Wednesday 10 p.m. season-premiere (which had lead-in support from the season-finale of “America’s Got Talent”). Since “Blindspot” will clearly skew younger than former time period occupant “The Mysteries of Laura,” NBC should not be disappointed.

Next on NBC was the 18th season premiere of “Law & Order: SVU” at a 5.1/ 8 (#4) at 9 p.m., which was right on par with its year-ago two-hour season-opener, followed by aforementioned “Chicago PD” at a 4.4/ 8 (#2) at 10 p.m. At this rate, “Law & Order: SVU” should have no trouble topping the 20-season record for parent “Law & Order.” You go Dick Wolf!

The CW ducked the competition again, this time with encore telecasts of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (#5: 0.9/ 2) and two episodes of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” (#5: avg. 0.8/ 1 from 9-10 p.m.).
What follows are the household overnight results by half-hour:

8:00 p.m.
ABC – “The Goldbergs” (season premiere): 4.4/ 8 (#4)
CBS – “Survivor” (season premiere): 5.7/10 (#1)
NBC – “Blindspot”: 4.9/ 8 (#2)
Fox – “Lethal Weapon” (series premiere): 5.0/ 8 (#2)
CW – “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (R): 0.9/ 2 (#5)

8:30 p.m.
ABC – “Speechless” (series premiere): 5.1/ 8 (#3)
CBS – “Survivor” (season premiere): 5.7/9 (#1)
NBC – “Blindspot”: 4.2/ 7 (#2)
Fox – “Lethal Weapon” (series premiere): 5.6/ 9 (#2)
CW – “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (R): 0.8/ 1 (#5)

9:00 p.m.
ABC – “Modern Family” (season premiere): 5.8/ 9 (#2)
CBS – “Survivor” (season premiere): 5.5/ 9 (#3)
NBC – “Law & Order: SVU” (season premiere): 5.0/ 8 (#4)
Fox – “Empire” (season premiere): 7.2/11 (#1)
CW – “Whose Line is it Anyway” (R): 0.8/ 1 (#5)

9:30 p.m.
ABC – “black-ish” (season premiere): 4.5/ 7 (#3)
CBS – “Big Brother” (season finale): 4.1/ 6 (#4)
NBC – “Law & Order: SVU” (season premiere): 5.4/ 9 (#2)
Fox – “Empire” (season premiere): 7.2/11 (#1)
CW – “Whose Line is it Anyway” (R): 0.8/ 1 (#5)

10:00 p.m.
ABC – “Designated Survivor” (series premiere): 7.3/12 (#1)
CBS – “Big Brother” (season finale): 3.8/ 6 (#3)
NBC – “Chicago PD” (season finale): 4.4/ 7 (#2)

10:30 p.m.
ABC – “Designated Survivor” (series premiere): 7.1/13 (#1)
CBS – “Big Brother” (season finale): 3.8/ 7 (#3)
NBC – “Chicago PD” (season finale): 4.3/ 8 (#2)

Source: Nielsen Media Research


Leave a Reply
  1. Great analysis as always. FYI, your half hour data is from Tuesday, not Wednesday.
    How ’bout that cyclone-forced evacuation on Survivor?!! [Sorry, spoilers] It will be another great season.

  2. Great night for broadcast television. Every network has something to be proud of.

    Spectacular opening for Designated Survivor – esp. for a 10pm show, and what an increase from black-ish! It will be interesting, however, to see how it holds up in coming weeks. ABC does a great job getting its new shows sampled… but retention has always been an issue. Once we see the half hours it will be a good indication of what viewers thought. I haven’t seen it yet, but looking forward to catching it on my DVR.

    Blindspot did better than I expected in its new time. I still think its too early for this type of show, but if NBC can increase the demo rating in the hour than perhaps its done its job.

    • You can only be proud if you lower the bar considerably as has been done the last few years IMO.

      10 million viewers for Designated Survivor should not be described as “spectacular”, even if it had a lead-in that did little to help it. It’s solid and the proof will be in the next few weeks.

      Blindspot was a disaster area last year and continues to be even if NBC will be its usual ageist pin.

  3. Great to have your analysis back!! I’ve missed them. I was really encouraged by Speechless, laughed out loud a few times, and you don’t always get that from an episode of a sitcom. Bippity, boppity, boo!! Modern Family was outstanding. The writing and acting are consistently excellent. They don’t suffer what I notice with Big Bang Theory. That cast/writers seem to need a couple episodes to get their rhythem back after summer vacation, but not Modern Family. I’m pretty encouraged by the new season so far!!

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