With the East Coast ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, Nielsen just put up a note that ratings for last night are delayed until around 1 PM ET due to impact from the storm. Only NBC and ABC aired their lineups in originals last night, with CBS and the CW switching to reruns and Fox already slated for repeats because of its World Series coverage. Ratings will likely be impacted by the storm, which caused massive evacuations and power outages. By the beginning of primetime on the East Coast, more than 2 million were without power. That number has now climbed to 7.5 million.
Fox did not catch a break with the World series this year. First, none of the big TV audience draws, The Yankees or the Red Sox, made it to the final, sending ratings down double-digits for the opening games. Then the Giants swept the series in four games. The NLCS championship series at least went to seven games, but Fox could’ve used three more nights of World Series ratings instead of reruns in a fall season it’s been struggling, down double-digits from last year. To make things worse, the deciding Game 4 went against football on NBC, which won the face-off. In the time-adjusted metered market households, Sunday Night Football drew a 11.4 rating/17 share vs. 10.6/16 for the World Series. The Broncos-Saints SNF game was virtually even with last week’s 11.7 rating against Game 6 of the NLCS series. Fox still won the night in 18-49 with help from an NFL overrun.
The First Lady’s debut appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night delivered the late-night show’s biggest Thursday audience since May 3, 2007. According to fast nationals, Michelle Obama’s visit pulled in 2.367 million viewers last night, 855,000 of them in the adults 18-49 demographic, Kimmel’s best result in the demo since June 21. Last night was also the ABC show’s tops among overall viewers since June 12. Both of those high-rated June shows came during the NBA Finals, which ABC aired. The May 3, 2007 show with Eva Longoria and Macy Gray drew 2.456 million viewers, with 1.228 million in the 18-49 demo.
ABC’s lineup last night featured two series anxiously awaiting word on a back order: dramas Last Resort and Scandal. One of them got good news. Scandal (2.0/5 in adults 18-49), which had been all but assured a back-nine order, sealed the deal with a ratings uptick of 5% from last week. (It was up across all key demographics, including 18-34, where it spiked 15%). And Scandal did it with its lead-in, Grey’s Anatomy (2.9/8), down 15% from last week to a season low. Airing against Game 2 of the World Series, ABC’s male-skewing Last Resort (1.3/4) tumbled 24% from last week to a series low despite ABC putting extra promotional muscle behind the episode. Baseball was a mitigating factor, and Last Resort is a major DVR gainer but the Live+Same Day delivery was nevertheless disappointing.
CBS’ male-skewing The Big Bang Theory and Person Of Interest did not get dinged by baseball. Big Bang (4.8/14) was up a tenth from its fast national last Thursday, even with the final, to again lead the night. Person Of Interest (3.0/8) was up 7% to match its season high and top Grey’s for the first time this season. The hammock show between the two, veteran Two And A Half Men (3.7/11), slipped 7% from last week’s highly rated Miley Cyrus episode but was still 6% above the episode from two weeks ago, indicating some of the Cyrus ratings gains have stuck. At 10 PM, Elementary (2.2/6) shed another tenth for a new low but still topped the 10 PM hour.
There was encouraging news for freshman dramas Chicago Fire (1.8/5 in adults 18-49, up 20% from last week) and Nashville (2.0/6, flat) last night after those alarming 21% and 29% second-week drops last Wednesday. Both shows are still a ways off from challenging 12-year-old CSI (2.4/6 in 18-49, up 4%) for the top spot in the 10 PM hour. But finding the bottom or, in the case of Chicago Fire, bouncing back in Week 3 is a good sign, especially against the World Series. Chicago Fire was helped by its lead-in, the 300th episode of Law & Order: SVU (1.8/5), which was up 13% from last week.
Fox is expected to win Wednesday with Game 1 of the World Series. Time zone-adjusted ratings won’t be available until later today, but in the fast nationals the game between the Giants and the Tigers (3.2/9 in 18-49) is down 18% from last year’s opening game and is expected to stay in negative territory. Last fall’s Game 1 of the World Series also was down year-to-year, by 11% in 18-49, as neither series has featured a big audience draw like the Yankees or Red Sox.
President Obama’s visit to The Tonight Show last night gave the show its best Wednesday ratings in more than two and a half years — though it was down from the last time the President was on. Last night’s show drew a 4.0/10 in metered-market households, the best Wednesday since March 3, 2010, the week Leno returned to host the NBC late-night show. Improving on The Tonight Show’s Wednesday season average by 48%, last night’s show was tied for the fifth-best overnight household rating since Leno’s return. Yesterday’s appearance was Obama’s third since taking office; his October 25, 2011 visit, a Tuesday, got a 4.1/11. That 2011 was the fourth best overnight Tonight has had since March 1, 2010. The President’s numbers last night also surpassed his wife’s last visit with Leno, when she drew a 3.3/8 for an August 13 appearance with Olympian Gabby Douglas. The Tonight Show has been averaging 3.4 million viewers on Wednesdays.
Related: Video: Obama Mocks Trump On Leno
RATINGS RATE RACE: ‘Happy Endings’ & ‘Don’t Trust The B’ Open Soft, ‘Emily Owens’ Drops In Week 2, ‘Vegas’ Hits Low
It was the first edition of the “comedy sigalert” three-way Tuesday face-off last night as ABC launched its new comedy block of Happy Endings and Don’t Trust The B—- In Apt. 23 to face NBC’s Go On and The New Normal and Fox’s New Girl and The Mindy Project (Mindy was pre-empted last night for a relocated The X Factor).
Fox’s New Girl (2.7/7) came out the dustup unscathed, on par with its last original two weeks ago. It also topped its now two comedy competitors in the 9 PM slot: NBC’s Go On (2.5/7, down 11% from its fast national two weeks ago, 4% from the final) and Happy Endings (1.9/5), finishing right behind CBS’ NCIS: LA (2.8 from 9-9:30 PM) in the half-hour.
It was a slow start for Happy Endings and Don’t Trust The B— (1.7/4), which have been left to fend for themselves this fall after alternating for a run behind hit Modern Family last season. Not surprisingly, both comedies were down sharply from their most recent season/series debuts behind Modern Family last season: -39% for Happy Endings and -41% from Don’t Trust The B—-, which hit a series low. On the bright side, Happy Endings was up 12% from its April season finale. Of the other comedies last night, Fox’s Raising Hope (1.7/5) was even with last week; Ben And Kate (1.4/4) showed some spark, up 17% from last week, while NBC’s The New Normal (1.8/4) was down 10% from two weeks ago. (The presidential debate pre-empted the networks’ 9-11 PM programming last Tuesday).
ANALYSIS: With cable steadily gaining on broadcast, a cable show rising to the top of the ratings charts was just a matter of time. But who would’ve predicted just a coupe of years ago that it won’t be a series on established basic cable networks like TNT, TBS, USA Network or FX, which have been nipping at broadcasters’ heels, to do it but a drama on the once-obscure AMC? Yes, the highest-rated non-sports telecast among adults 18-49 on all of television this fall was the Season 3 premiere of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead, which drew 7.3 million 18-49 viewers in Live+Same Day, with no carriage on major satcaster Dish Network no less.
Speaking of fall surprises, who would’ve predicted even a couple of months ago that NBC would leapfrog from fourth to first place this fall to dominate competitors among adults 18-49 by winning each of the first four weeks of the season for the first time in 10 years? That’s since fall 2002, when NBC’s Thursday lineup was anchored by Friends, Will & Grace and ER. NBC has now won seven weeks in a row in 18-49. The rise of NBC to the top of the broadcast standings and cable dramas’ ratings breakthrough highlight the fall season so far.
UPDATE, 2:49 PM: The third Presidential debate of 2012 pulled in 2.7 million more viewers last night than watched the third debate between Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008. Pulling in 59.2 million total viewers, last night’s debate was down 10% from the 65.6 million viewers who watched the second meeting between Obama and Mitt Romney on October 16 and down 12% from the 67.2 million who watched their first debate October 3. NBC led the night Monday with 12.39 million viewers (5.84 million in the adults 25-54 demo) watching the third face-off between President Obama and Romney. ABC came in second with 11.73 million viewers. Fox News Channel was third with almost 11.5 million viewers, an all-time viewership high for the 16-year-old news network. CBS was fourth with 8.43 million viewers overall. ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision, PBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Current TV and CNBC all aired the 9-10:30 PM ET debate live last night. Telemundo played it on tape delay. Fox did not broadcast the debate, instead airing Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, which drew 8.1 million viewers. ESPN aired Monday Night Football to 10.7 million viewers. Both sports events were beaten in viewership by NBC, ABC and Fox News’s debate coverage.
CBS this morning was the latest broadcast network to weigh in on freshman series back orders, giving full-season pickups to dramas Elementary and Vegas. The first wave of episodic orders typically goes to the strongest ratings performers, with the next echelon getting additional script orders while the networks decide whether to keep them around. This is the case again this fall with one notable exception: Fox’s modestly rated new comedy Ben And Kate, the only new series with a back order to get fewer than nine episodes (six), as its pickup was more of a statement by Fox that it is committed to nurturing its fledgling Tuesday comedy block than a testament to the show’s strength. The full-season 22-episode orders to date went to the six highest-rated new series among adults 18-49: NBC’s Revolution (4.3/11 in most current ratings*), CBS’ Elementary (3.5/10), NBC’s Go On (2.9/8), CBS’ Vegas (2.7/8), Fox’s The Mindy Project (2.6/7) and NBC’s The New Normal (2.5/7). Ben And Kate (1.8) is six slots down, below ABC’s Nashville (2.4), ABC’s Last Resort (2.3), ABC’s 666 Park Ave, CBS’ Partners (2.3) and ABC’s The Neighbors (2.1). The CW’s sole pickup so far, Arrow, is the network’s highest-rated series this fall with a 1.3 in 18-49. (Note: Full Freshman Series Status Report chart after the story.) Interestingly, the only freshman show to get a larger-than-22-episode pickup this season was not the highest-rated (Revolution), but Mindy Project, for reasons in the vein of those for Ben And Kate‘s back order. (Fox also is pre-empting Mindy for three of the current four weeks, so the extra order served as a vote of confidence to the Mindy Kaling series.) I hear there are discussions for an extra episode of Arrow, which would push the order to 23.
Last night, President Obama and Mitt Romney faced their biggest debate challenge yet. No, it wasn’t moderator Bob Schieffer’s questions or trying to restrain themselves from punching each other when seated within arm’s reach. For the first time in three Presidential and one Vice Presidential debate, it aired against football: Monday Night Football on ESPN. To make things even more competitive, the San Francisco Giants needed a Game 7 in the National League Championship Series to clinch a spot in the World Series, so the debate faced that face-off too on the East Coast. Because the NCLS went the distance, Fox did not carry the debate last night, the first time it’s done so this fall. Because of that, cume ratings for the third Presidential debate on the broadcast networks are running down double digits from the second debate in early estimates. Time-adjusted ratings for the debate will be available in a few hours. (UPDATE: Fox News set a viewership record.)
To accommodate the debate, NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s Dancing With The Stars were condensed to an hour, running from 8-9 PM. For Dancing (2.4/6), that actually boosted ratings as the dancing competition rose 14% from last week’s two-hour edition. However, ABC carried an NFL game in Detroit, so the the network’s fast nationals are likely inflated. The Voice (4.2/11) suffered from going down to one hour, dropping 29% from last Monday’s 8-10 PM telecast. It also was down 10% from its Tuesday edition last week, which, like last night’s episode, aired from 8-9 PM.
Analysts have stopped telling clients to wait for more data before they worry about the lousy early ratings for the major networks’ primetime shows. Although “it is probably too early to panic, there are several areas of concern,” Nomura Securities’ Michael Nathanson says this morning. That’s a shift from a few weeks ago when he called the initial ratings figures “disappointing” but possibly the result of quirks in this year’s schedules. The new conventional wisdom is that the major broadcast networks have a serious problem as the latest so-called C3 ratings (those who watch a show’s commercials live and as much as three days after they air) show ABC -15% this season vs the same period last year with CBS -23% and Fox -28% — but NBC +12%. RBC Capital Markets’ David Bank said last week that “our best ‘experts’ tell us that it’s realistic to expect ratings for the Broadcast Year 2012/2013 to decline ~5%-10%.” And all eyes are on CBS, which depends on the performance of its broadcast network more than its rivals at Disney, Comcast, and News Corp. CBS shares are down 10.5% over the last 30 days, far more than the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 which is -1.8%.
It was good news all around for ABC on Sunday. The only major broadcast network not to air live sports in primetime last night saw its entire scripted lineup post week-to-week ratings increases. Once Upon A Time (3.3/8) was up 10%. Revenge (2.8/6) was up a tenth for a second consecutive week, while rookie 666 Park Avenue reversed its downward ratings trend since the series premiere, up 20%. The only show in the negative column for ABC last night was America’s Funniest Home Videos (1.3/4), which was down a tenth facing an hour of NFL overrun on CBS.
That overrun, whose exact duration was 56 minutes, pushed the start of CBS’ primetime. That was bad news for East Coast fans of The Mentalist, which started a couple of minutes before 11 PM, and great news for Steven Spielberg and his upcoming film Lincoln. 60 Minutes, which aired a segment on Spielberg and his new movie, shot up 75% from last week to a 3.5/9 in adults 19-49 following the football overrun. The gains didn’t carry over to the 9 PM hour where The Amazing Race (2.3/5) was down 12% from last week. But at 10 PM, The Good Wife (1.9/5) is currently running up 12% from last week. Is the female-skewing drama better suited for 10 PM where it doesn’t have to face ABC’s similarly targeted Revenge?
RATINGS RAT RACE: Miley Cyrus Drives ‘Two And A Half Men’ To Season High, ‘Up All Night’ Also Up, ‘Beauty’ Dives In Week 2
In the spring of 2008, then-perennial bubble CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother got Britney Spears as a guest star. The episode shot up to series highs and fostered a turnaround for the show, which turned from an underperforming darling to a hit almost overnight. Four and a half years later, CBS this fall made a scheduling move that raised a lot of eyebrows: relocating long-time Monday anchor Two And A Half Men to Thursday. The veteran has struggled in its new environment, even falling below the delivery of utility player Rules Of Engagement in the slot at one point. Until last night, when the show featured another big teen draw: Miley Cyrus. With her, Two And A Half Men jumped 14% from last week to a 4.0/11 among adults 18-49, hitting season highs in adults 18-49, total viewers (13.6 million) and adults 25-54. Two And A Half Men already received a second lease on life with the introduction of new leading man Ashton Kutcher last season. Could Cyrus’ appearance be a “Britney” moment for the veteran comedy that would give it new momentum and help it age more gracefully in its new Thursday slot? The good news for Men is that Cyrus has already been booked for another episode, and given the ratings, she may be asked to do more. Unlike Spears, Cyrus is a sitcom pro, having started off on the Disney Channel hit Hannah Montana.
The Five had the best viewership numbers in its 15-month history last night. Talking about the second presidential debate, Fox News Channel’s multi-host show pulled in 2.5 million total viewers Wednesday, with 576,000 in the adults 25-54 demographic. That’s an all-time high for a full hour of the show. Fox News finished No. 1 in the cable rankings in the 5 PM ET hour (Nickelodeon was second with just more than 2.1 million total viewers; MSNBC, which aired Hardball With Chris Matthews, was fifth with 1.3 million total viewers and 353,000 adults 25-54). The Five’s previous record came September 14, when the show drew 2.48 million viewers and 538,000 in the demo. The Five is hosted by Andrea Tantaros, Bob Beckel, Eric Bolling, former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld. Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Juan Williams appear as hosts as well.
FX‘s American Horror Story: Asylum got off to a strong start last night with 3.85 million total viewers. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s horror anthology series was once again particularly strong in the younger demos, posting 2.78 million adults 18-49 (2.20 rating) and 1.78 million adults 18-34 (2.63 rating). Among 18-34, it was the top program at 10 PM last night on broadcast or cable, while in 18-49, it finished second behind only CBS’ CSI (2.39 rating).
RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Nashville’ And ‘Chicago Fire’ Drop In Week 2, ‘Arrow’ Steady, ‘Suburgatory’ Modest In Return
It was a rather atypical Wednesday night, with usual demo winner Fox airing a mix of a little bit of baseball, rain delay-filling sitcom reruns and an hour of The X Factor that inadvertently ran simultaneously on both coasts. Or as Simon Cowell put it, “a total f up,” that will result in last night’s two-hour episode airing in its entirety on Tuesday night, pre-empting Fox’s fledgling comedy block and facing an all-new The Voice.
With Fox out of sorts, CBS swooped in and won the night in adults 18-49 (2.7/8), along with total viewers (10.8 million). Survivor: Philippines (2.7/8) and Criminal Minds (3.1/8) were both up a tenth from last week’s fast nationals, while CSI (2.4/7) was down two tenths. CSI‘s ratings fluctuations have been puzzling — it went up last week when it faced the premieres of ABC’s Nashville and NBC’s Chicago Fire and then retreated last night when its time-slot rivals dropped significantly from their debuts. (CSI still ruled the 10 PM hour.)
UPDATE, 2:45 PM: The second presidential debate was down 1.6 million viewers from the 67.2 million who watched the October 3 match-up between President Obama and Mitt Romney. NBC was No. 1 overall with 13.8 million viewers. The 65.6 million that watched the Candy Crowley-moderated town hall-style debate last night were 2.4 million more than watched the second similarly formatted debate between Obama and John McCain in 2008. ABC followed NBC in viewership with 12.46 million and then Fox News Channel with 11.1 million. CBS had 8.9 million total viewers, and the Fox network had 4.6 million, according to Nielsen. NBC also was tops in network post-debate analysis, followed by ABC and CBS. ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, CNN, FNC, MSNBC, Current TV and CNBC all ran the debate live from 9-10:45 PM ET on Tuesday, with Univision and Telemundo broadcasting coverage on tape delay.
There was an hour of entertainment programming last night, followed by coverage of the second Presidential debate. (Although, with its testiness, the debate did rival such reality staples as the Real Wives franchise in bickering and fighting.) Reliable ratings for the debate won’t be available until later today (check Deadline for updates), but judging by the fast nationals, it seems to have drawn overall audience/demos on par with the first debate, with NBC leading coverage by a wider margin this time due to its big lead-in from The Voice.
The Voice (4.6/13 in adults 18-49) was up two tenths from its fast national last week, leading NBC to another Tuesday demo victory. ABC’s Dancing With The Stars results (2.1/6) matched its fast national last week despite moving from 9 PM to 8 PM to accommodate the debate. Fox’s Raising Hope (1.7/5) was down one tenth but freshman Ben And Kate (1.2/3) stumbled, down 20%.
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