UPDATE, 10:22 PM: Turns out Jack is back even a little bit more. Time zone adjusted ratings are in via Nielsen and the 24: Live Another Day premiere rose up to a 2.6 among Adults 18-49. Perhaps more importantly for Fox, that’s a 94% retention from the show’s Season 8 finale 2.8 result back on May 24, 2010. In terms of viewership, the time zone adjusteds also inched up the 2-hour return of Jack Bauer to 8.1 million.
PREVIOUS, 8:08 AM: After weeks of Fox promotion and #JackIsBack on social media, the event series 24: Live Another Day (2.5/8) premiered last night. Bringing back anti-terrorism super-agent Jack Bauer after four years in both real time and TV time, the Kiefer Sutherland-starring series bounced right back into the game. The two-hour debut dipped just 10% from the 2.8/8 rating that the two-hour Season 8 finale of 24 pulled on May 24, 2010. In a time when network viewership across the board was about 27% higher than today, that Monday show drew 9 million viewers. Last night’s 24: Live Another Day had 7.98 million viewers from 8-10 PM. It’s worth noting that a 2.8 rating and 9.1 million viewers is also the Season 8 average for the last cycle of 24. This latest version of the world-saving adventures of Jack, Chloe O’Brien and the gang runs for 12 episodes with a July 14 finale.
The last 24 premiere got a 3.8 on January 17, 2010, but any comparison to last night’s debut is truly apples to leather. The 9 PM Sunday start was on a night preceded by the NFC playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys that afternoon on Fox. Watched by more than 37 million viewers, that game was full of 24 promotion pushing the audience to the premiere later that night. The first Monday broadcast of the eighth season got a 3.4/8 with the two-hour airing averaging about 11 million viewers. Additionally, while starting in the traditionally lesser-watched month of May, the high-profile limited series likely has even greater DVR potential than most, so expect to see a rise when the Live+3 and Live+7 numbers come in over the next week or so.
Having said that, looking at some other somewhat recent Fox drama debuts, 24 last night fell short of the 3.5/9 rating that breakout Sleepy Hollow got on September 16, 2013. That premiere had 10.1 million total viewers. The first-season opener of The Following had a 3.2/7 rating with 10.38 million watching on January 21.
The solid result of the limited-series 24 debut is also more impressive when you realize that it also had to share the TV court with not one but two NBA Round 2 playoff games as the Washington Wizards topped the Indiana Pacers and the very-much-in-the-news LA Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on TNT. Premiering for the first time heading into the summer, 24: Live Another Day had some other debuts of a sort to contend with last night too. Even with last week despite the Bauer competition, on The Voice (3.0/9) recently announced new coaches Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams made their live-performance premieres on the NBC show on Monday before settling in on the red chairs next season. The top-rated show of the night, the two-hour NBC singing competition show was followed the second-highest-rated show of the night, The Blacklist (2.7/8). The James Spader-starrer was also even with its April 28 show. NBC won the night among Adults 18-49 with a 2.9/9.
Over on CBS, there was a lot of southward movement. The Season 3 finale of 2 Broke Girls (1.9/7) took a 17% tumble from last week and 37% face-plant from last year’s season ender. Based on preliminary ratings, last night’s result is a series low for the comedy. That drop did no favors to newbie Friends With Better Lives (1.6/5) as it sits on the bubble. The mid-season comedy fell 16% from its April 27th show furthering likely sinking its fate. Lead-out Mike & Molly (1.8/5) suffered a falling fate too, going down 18% from last week.
Facing off against 24 and The Voice, ABC’s Dancing With The Stars (1.8/6) dropped a hard 31% from last week’s season high to what is now a season low. With that as a lead-in, it’s no surprise that Castle (1.6/5) was down four tenths. That result tied a series low for the drama. Both shows saw some adjustment in the final numbers last week so you might see a small rise here this week. Overall ABC was the most watched network of the night with 11.5 million viewers tuning in.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.