One week in, and the Peacock is pumped.
A vibrant "Voice" and a strong start for James Spader drama "The Blacklist" keyed NBC during premiere week, as the net prevailed in key demos to start the season for a second straight year -- and this time by comfortable margins.
ABC was also up a bit; CBS (-8%) and Fox (-15%) were down.
NBC's advantage over the No. 2 network (ABC) was 35%, up from 12% a year ago (when Fox was runner-up) and the largest on a percentage basis for any network since 1997.
And the Peacock's position relative to ABC, CBS and Fox compared with two years ago is especially striking, as it ranked fourth in premiere week 2011. NBC's Week 1 average this year is 19% higher than 2011 (3.1 vs. 2.6) while its rivals are all down by 18% or more.
Getting nice contributions from dramas "Chicago Fire" and "Law & Order: SVU," too, as well as the usually dominant "Sunday Night Football" franchise, NBC also won premiere week in both persons 12-34 and adults 25-54.
CBS led in total viewers, and has now finished on top in the last five premiere weeks and nine out of the last 11.
All four of the major networks have opened a show to good ratings, and now it's a matter of whether viewers will return. NBC's "Blacklist" and Fox's "Sleepy Hollow" look like the real deal after holding up well in their second episodes. ABC's "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" and CBS' "The Crazy Ones" will hope to do the same this week.
Overall, five new series ranked among premiere week's top 20 programs, up from just two a year ago.
Across all of television, DVR playback in premiere week was up 12% in adults 18-49 vs. last year, underscoring the networks' plea for patience when it comes to judging a show's ratings performance before all data is in. Interestingly, the year-to-year growth in DVR usage is about double (23%) among adults 50-plus -- a sign that older viewers are getting more comfortable with the technology.
It looks like more shows will gain 4 million viewers or more in 3-day DVR playback this season, as NBC's "The Blacklist" and CBS' "Elementary" and "The Big Bang Theory" have already done it. Last season, only "Big Bang" and ABC's "Modern Family" added 4 million time-shifted viewers within the three-day window post-telecast.
The Big Four averaged a combined 9.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 34.1 million viewers overall during premiere week, down 3% in the demo and flat in total viewers -- pretty good, especially considering that they should look better in such comparisons thanks to the increased DVR playback numbers.
Looking at the networks, NBC has to be pleased with its early-week performance, as it clocked in with 18-49 victories on both Monday and Tuesday of premiere week for the first time in 25 years.
The net won Monday by 74% in adults 18-49, the largest margin for any network in Nielsen People Meter history. "The Voice," with the return of its original judges, was easily the night's No. 1 series in 18-49 (5.1/13) and total viewers (14.98 million), rising by double-digits vs. both its year-ago premiere (when it bowed earlier in September) and the opening night of the television season.
"The Blacklist" had an impressive bow (3.8/10 in 18-49, 12.58m), also winning comfortably. The last regularly scheduled 10 p.m. drama to post a higher in-season 18-49 average than the premiere of "Blacklist" was ABC's "Private Practice" in 2010.
"The Voice" also shined on Tuesday with an expanded two-hour episode (4.7/13, 14.35m), which led into series highs for "Chicago Fire" (2.7/8 in 18-49, 8.90m) as it debuted on its new night.
"Revolution" improved NBC's Wednesday 8 p.m. timeslot as it began season two (1.8/6, 6.81m), and "Law & Order: SVU" followed by kicking off its 15th season with surprisingly strong numbers (2.7/8 in 18-49, 9.58m) -- up 29% from last year and moving to the timeslot lead at 10 o'clock.
NBC has some work to do on Thursday, where "The Michael J. Fox Show" opened lower than expected (2.2/6 in 18-49, 7.50m), and "Parks and Recreation" returned sluggishly (1.3/4 in 18-49, 3.27m). By moving "Parenthood" to the night, though, the net was able to show timeslot improvement at 10 p.m. vs. last year's "Rock Center" -- and those gains will skyrocket with DVR playback.
"Sunday Night Football" was the week's No. 1 program (7.6/20 in 18-49, 20.49 million viewers overall for New England-Atlanta), but NBC's premiere-week Sunday was down 14% from last year -- making its overall gains for the week more impressive.
Rising NBC Easily Wins Premiere Week in Key Demos
« Previous Story More Topic pages Next Story »
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.