For the most part, the Nielsen ratings for the first Tuesday night of the 2013-14 season played out more or less how most observers thought they would.
“Agents of SHIELD” had a strong opening for ABC, particularly among adults 18-49. “NCIS” reclaimed its spot as the most-watched scripted series. “The Voice” remained strong in its second night on NBC.
Not everything, however, went by the book Tuesday (Sept. 24). “Person of Interest” was supposed to be the last link in a powerhouse Tuesday lineup of dramas for CBS — but instead, its debut on a new night pulled in below-average ratings, losing the demographic race at 10 o’clock to NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” which got some good help from its “Voice” lead-in.
And while few believed “SHIELD” could lift an entire night of new programming on ABC, the dropoff by the end of the night was pretty stunning. By the time new drama “Lucky 7” closed out primetime, close to 65 percent of the total audience that watched “Agents of SHIELD” had left. The decline was even steeper in the 18-49 demographic.
Some notes from the night:
– “Agents of SHIELD” had a very good premiere, drawing 12.1 million viewers and a 4.7 rating among adults 18-49 in the final overnight ratings (both measures are up a little from the fast nationals). The 18-49 number was more than double what ABC drew on the same night last year with “Dancing With the Stars” and has a pretty good chance to be the top series premiere of the fall.
– ABC is touting “SHIELD” as the top-rated drama series premiere (again, in adults 18-49 — you may not agree with it, bit it’s the first and in some cases only number most on the broadcast networks look at) since Nov. 3, 2009. The last show to premiere higher? “V” — which should serve as a reminder that a big premiere guarantees next to nothing in terms of a show’s long-term prospects.
– “SHIELD” appeared to steal some viewers from “The Voice.” The NBC show ended up improving on its Tuesday debut from a year ago, but it scored lower ratings in its first hour than Monday’s show did before making a pretty big jump from 9 to 10 p.m. ET.
– “NCIS” grabbed just over 20 million viewers and a 3.6 rating in adults 18-49 (both up from the fast nationals). It easily led the night in viewers but was off a little bit from last year’s premiere (20.5 million viewers, 4.1 in 18-49). “NCIS: Los Angeles” (16.35 million, 3.0) was also off compared to a year ago.
– The biggest surprise was the relatively low ratings for “Person of Interest.” Its 12.4 million viewers and 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demo were down 13 percent and 21 percent, respectively, from last year’s 14.3 million and 2.9 at 9 p.m. Thursday. It also fell short of the “Vegas” series premiere (14.7 million, 2.5) in the 10 p.m. Tuesday spot last year. “PoI” had a better 18-49 lead-in last year in “Two and a Half Men” but also built on a smaller total audience than “NCIS: LA” delivered.
– On the flip side, the move of “Chicago Fire” to Tuesday helped that show. “Fire” was one of the few shows to grow over the course of its inaugural season last year. The trend continued Tuesday as the Season 2 premiere was way up over the series debut (8.9 million and 2.7 vs. 6.6 million and 1.9). Some of that is obviously due to the bigger lead-in with “The Voice,” but possibly encouraging for NBC is the fact the show was also up considerably over the one other time it had a “Voice” lead-in.
– The total-viewer numbers for ABC, CBS and NBC at 8 o’clock look like something from 10 or 12 years ago. About 45 million people were watching those three networks in that hour, shades of the pre-DVR days.