TV's big broadcast networks kicked off their fall season in earnest this week, and while the trend from broadcasters has been to de-emphasize overnight ratings in favor of counting audiences that accumulate over a week, there's still something to be said about the shows that are attracting live viewership. While more viewers are certainly watching programming on a delayed basis, about 50 million people still tuned in to one of the Big Four broadcasters last Monday night at 8 p.m., according to Nielsen.
CBS: The network started its season with a "Bang," averaging nearly 18 million viewers for the one-hour premiere of "The Big Bang Theory" in a temporary Monday-night timeslot. The show also pulled a 5.4 rating among the all-important 18-to-49 demographic. (One ratings point is equivalent to 1% of TV households.) That gave a nice lead-in to the new drama "Scorpion," which bowed to 14 million viewers and a 3.3 rating. The strong showing has already prompted CBS to change its schedule. It will continue to air an hour of "Big Bang" on Monday—one episode followed by a repeat—and delay the premiere of "Mom" to October. "The Millers" will now air on Monday when it begins next month instead of Thursday as planned, while "Mom" runs on Thursday instead of Monday.
Elsewhere, the newest installment of the "NCIS" franchise, this time set in New Orleans, averaged 17.1 million viewers and a 2.5 rating among 18-to-49-year-olds. The original "NCIS" returned to 18 million viewers, and "Madam Secretary" debuted to 14.8 million viewers and a 2.0 rating.
Fox: Fox had the most riding on the start of the fall season, but initial results have been lackluster. "Sleepy Hollow," one of the network's biggest hits from last year, returned to just 5.5 million viewers and a 2.0 rating among adults 18 to 49. But Fox said it expects significant delayed viewing due to the competition on Monday night, projecting the demo rating will climb to 3.9 after seven days.
Its new drama "Red Band Society" lost viewers in its second week, watched by just 3.4 million people and declining 23% in the demo, while "New Girl" dropped off 24% in the demo from its premiere and "The Mindy Project" fell 23% in the demo.
The highly anticipated "Gotham" did manage to pull a strong 3.2 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic and averaged 8.2 million viewers. Fox expects the Batman prequel to see a 59% increase in the demo when including seven days of viewing.
NBC: The premiere of "The Voice" was watched by 12.9 million viewers and pulled a 3.9 rating in the 18-to-49 demo on Monday, down about 20% from its fall premiere last year for its lowest-rated premiere in the demo. "The Blacklist" drew 12.5 million viewers and a 3.4 rating in its sophomore premiere, the second-highest rated episode to date behind last year's debut. NBC expects the drama to gain nearly 5 million additional viewers in the seven days following its airing.
NBC's new show "The Mysteries of Laura" moved to its regular 8 p.m. slot on Wednesday from 10 p.m., retaining most of the total audience but losing 28% of adults under 50.
ABC: Thursday was the highlight of ABC's week. Dubbed "TGIT" for "Thank God It's Thursday," the night of Shonda Rhimes dramas delivered. "Grey's Anatomy" premiered to 9.8 million viewers and a 3.0 rating, while "Scandal" hit a series high in total viewers, with 11.9 million, and a 3.8 rating. But its newest show, "How to Get Away with Murder," stole the night, debuting to 14 million viewers and a 3.8 rating.
"Black-ish" was also a big win. The comedy drew 10.8 million viewers and a 3.3 rating at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. That made it one of ABC's best attempts at a comedy in that time in recent years. "Modern Family" averaged nearly 11 million viewers and a 3.7 rating in the demo.
Less impressive was the new drama "Forever," which averaged 6.6 million viewers on Monday and pulled a 1.5 rating among adults 18 to 49. And the return of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." drew 5.6 million viewers and just a 1.9 rating in the demo, down nearly 60% in the demo from its premiere last season.