“The Big Bang Theory” spun off a prequel to great early results, an NBC comedy returned to strong numbers 11 years after it last aired and ABC had a happy result at 10 o’clock.
But also, nearly all of Wednesday’s returning shows were down vs. a year ago, “Lethal Weapon” took a hit and “Ten Days in the Valley” struggled badly. Those were some of the ups and downs of the first week of the 2016-17 TV season. Breaking it down a little more:
The really good
“The Big Bang Theory” and “Young Sheldon”: CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” spinoff scored the best series-debut ratings of the week by a wide margin, with a 3.8 rating among adults 18-49 (live plus same-day) and better than 17 million viewers. It was the highest-rated series premiere on a broadcast network since “Empire” in January 2015. Oh, and “Big Bang” (4.1) had its best 18-49 rating in 21 months.
The only downside for CBS is “Young Sheldon” is now off the air for a month while the network uses “The Big Bang Theory” to launch another new comedy, “9JKL.” Parent show and spinoff will come back together on Thursday nights starting Nov. 2.
“This Is Us”: Last season’s biggest new show returned to series-high ratings (3.9 in adults 18-49, 12.94 million viewers), strongly suggesting its momentum carried through the summer.
“Will & Grace”: The show returned after an 11-year absence to a bigger total audience (10.19 million) than every episode of its final season save the then-series finale. Its 3.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic was the fourth-best of the week (excluding sports), behind only the shows listed above. It probably won’t sustain those levels, but it looks like NBC has found a comedy anchor for this season.
“The Good Doctor”: Last season, ABC’s 10 p.m. Monday shows performed terribly: “Conviction” and “Quantico” averaged a paltry 0.7 in adults 18-49. “The Good Doctor’s” premiere more than tripled that average at 2.2. ABC has 10 p.m. problems elsewhere (see below), but “The Good Doctor” is providing a clear win for the network now. Unless three-quarters of the show’s premiere 18-49 viewership abandons the show entirely now and for the remainder of the season, ABC will up year to year in the timeslot.
The pretty good
“Empire” and “Star”: Yes, “Empire” was down a lot from last season’s premiere — it remains FOX’s No. 1 show, and its 2.4 in adults 18-49 led Wednesday. It also helped “Star” earn its best 18-49 rating (1.8) since the series premiere last season. The two shows are compatible (there was even a bit of crossover in their premieres) and should keep FOX at or near the top of the network race on Wednesdays.
“Chicago Fire”: NBC’s Chicago franchise cornerstone was down some from last season’s premiere: 1.5 vs. 1.8. But it also had a much smaller lead-in (1.3 for “Great News” vs. 2.7 for “This Is Us” in 2016) and improved the timeslot by 0.2 vs. last year’s “Blacklist” premiere.
“Ghosted”: Last season, “Son of Zorn” fell about 21 percent from its “Simpsons” lead-in (1.4 to 1.1). The debut of “Ghosted” held onto all of its lead-in (both shows scored 1.4) and drew a slightly larger total audience than “The Simpsons.” That’s an encouraging sign for FOX, which has shuttled a bunch of shows in and out of the 8:30 Sunday spot in recent years.
“Wisdom of the Crowd”: The newest in the subgenre of tech-genius-fixes-an-institution procedural drew Sunday’s biggest scripted-show audience (8.88 million) and was in line with the “NCIS: LA” premiere last year in adults 18-49 (1.4 vs. 1.5) in the same time period. It also matched the 1.9 rating in adults 25-54 (CBS’ core demo) for “NCIS: LA’s” season premiere.
The not so good
“The Brave”: NBC’s entry into the military drama field delivered a 1.3 in adults 18-49. That’s lower than the premieres for both “Timeless” (1.8) and “Taken” (1.4) in the post-“Voice” Monday spot last season. And speaking of that lead-in:
“The Voice”: Both editions of the show were down about 21 percent vs. last fall’s first week — 2.6 vs. 3.3 on Monday, 2.7 vs. 3.4 on Tuesday.
“Lethal Weapon”: It performed reasonably well last season away from “Empire” when the latter was on its midseason break, but Tuesday’s premiere tied a series low of 1.2.
ABC’s Wednesday lineup: Every show was down year to year, and the network’s average in adults 18-49 was off 30 percent vs. premiere week in 2016. “Designated Survivor” took the biggest hit with a 50 percent drop (1.1 vs. 2.2 last season).
The really not good
“Ten Days in the Valley”: The short-run ABC drama had the second-lowest 18-49 rating (0.6) of any scripted series during the week.
“The Exorcist”: The only scripted show lower? The Season 2 premiere of “The Exorcist,” whose 0.5 was half of its debut last season.