While rapidly evolving viewing habits and the usual challenges of finding a captive audience during the summer months have conspired to make this season even more sweaty than usual for broadcasters, ABC has managed to buck the trend with a spinoff of a syndicated game show.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the recently launched "Celebrity Family Feud" is the summer's most-watched, highest-rated new TV series. Since debuting on Sunday, June 21, "Feud" is averaging 8.19 million viewers and a 2.0 in the adults 18-49 demo, eclipsing the deliveries of the summer's 18 other new network shows.
In terms of overall reach, only CBS's new scripted thriller "Zoo" is putting up "Feud"-sized numbers, drawing 7.93 million viewers over the course of its first two episodes. But the much older-skewing "Zoo" has eked out a mere 1.2 rating among the 18-49 set, and its average draw of a 1.8 in CBS's target demo (adults 25-54) pales in comparison to the game show's 2.5 rating.
After "Feud," the highest-rated new summer series is NBC's "I Can Do That!" Renewed for a second season on July 1, the celebrity competition show averaged a 1.5 in the dollar demo. Ratings for the rest of the freshman summer school class fall in a range between a 0.5 and a 1.2.
Hosted by comedian Steve Harvey, who serves the same role on the syndicated "Family Feud," ABC's new hit is currently the second highest-rated program on ad-supported TV. Now in its tenth season, the indefatigable NBC series "America's Got Talent" is averaging 10.7 million viewers and a 2.4 in the advertiser-coveted demo.
Through its first four episodes, "Feud" has generated $17.2 million in ad sales revenue for ABC, per iSpot.tv estimates. Among the show's biggest sponsors are McDonald's, Walmart, Verizon, AT&T and Toyota. Not surprisingly, given that 69% of "Feud"'s audience falls outside the 18-49 demo, two pharma brands (Farxiga and Prevnar 13) are among its top 10 advertisers.
Thus far, ABC has leveraged "Feud" to promote four of its upcoming 2015-16 series, airing a spot each for "The Muppets," "Quantico," "Blood & Oil" and "Dr. Ken."
"Feud" airs Sundays at 8 p.m., where it goes up against CBS's venerable "Big Brother" franchise and NBC and Fox's rotating clutch of live sporting events and repeats. Among the celebrity contestants that have appeared on the show are Anthony Anderson, star of ABC's "Black-ish," Penny Marshall and, as part of an all-NFL showdown, New York Jets center Nick Mangold.
ABC's celeb-driven "Feud" marks the second time the format has found a broadcast home. In summer 2008, NBC's original incarnation of "Celebrity Family Feud" averaged 7.65 million viewers and a 2.0 in the demo.
The precursor to the two spinoffs, Mark Goodson's "Family Feud" premiered on ABC's daytime block in July 1976 and ran until June 1985.