'Supergirl' Is Season's Top-Rated Series Premiere

DC Comics Showdown With Fox's 'Gotham' Looks Less Likely to Throw Sparks

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Melissa Benoist as the title character in CBS's 'Supergirl.'
Melissa Benoist as the title character in CBS's 'Supergirl.' Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the biggest premiere of the fall TV season!

CBS's "Supergirl" soared in its Monday night debut, delivering 12.9 million total viewers and averaging a 3.2 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demographic, making it the most-watched, highest-rated new show of 2015-16.

According to Nielsen fast national data, the special 8:30-9:30 p.m. premiere drew 4.06 million members of the 18-to-49 set, edging the Sept. 21 debut of NBC's "Blindspot" by a margin of 127,000 demographically relevant viewers.

"Supergirl" put up even bigger numbers in CBS's target demo, delivering a 4.0 among adults 25-to-54, or 4.75 million viewers. Barring a downward adjustment in the final live-plus-same-day data, that 4.0 will tie the demo posted by the "Blindspot" opener.

As it so happens, "Supergirl" and "Blindspot" share a good deal of creative DNA, as both series are helmed by executive producer (and 2015 Ad Age Media Maven) Greg Berlanti.

"Supergirl" retained 76% of its "Big Bang Theory" lead-in among adults 18 to 49, while the freshman comedy "Life in Pieces" over the last five weeks has held on to just 52% of the anchor show's demo. The "Supergirl" retention of viewers in the 25-to-54 range was slightly lower, at 71%.

"Supergirl" shifts to its regular Monday 8 p.m. time slot next week, as temporary occupants "Big Bang" and "Life in Pieces" move to the Thursday night slots following by the end of CBS's stewardship of "Thursday Night Football."

While it's far too early to tell how "Supergirl" will fare in the coming weeks, it appears unlikely that the speculated DC Comics war of attrition with Fox's "Gotham" will ever materialize. In the half-hour of overlap, "Supergirl" more than doubled the 1.4 rating eked out by Fox's Batman origin story. "Supergirl" also easily outpaced "Gotham" in the males 18-to-49 demo, averaging a 3.2 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. versus Fox's 1.7.

Should "Supergirl" continue to hold up through November sweeps, it may prove to be the best buy on Monday night. According to media buyers, the average unit cost for a 30-second spot in "Supergirl" is just under $150,000 a pop, on par with what clients pay for the same slice of inventory in "Gotham."

That a 3.2 rating is enough to set a high-water mark for the fall season is further evidence of the erosion of live viewing. By way of comparison, last fall's biggest opener, the Shonda Rhimes legal thriller "How to Get Away with Murder," bowed to a 3.8 in the 18-to49 demo, matching the biggest debut of 2013 (NBC's "The Blacklist"). The biggest rookie of fall 2012 was NBC's dystopian drama "Revolution," which opened to a 4.1 in the demo, while the previous year gave rise to CBS's "2 Broke Girls," which arrived to an inflated 7.1 rating out of the first installment of the Ashton Kutcher-helmed "Two and a Half Men."

TV usage among adults 18 to 49 was down 7% last night versus the year-ago period. As they have been throughout the fall, usage declines were particularly sharp among men 18 to 24 (-14%) and men 18 to 34 (-12%). Prime-time TV usage among women 12 to 34 was off 10% versus the year-ago Monday.

Since the season began, only a handful of new shows have premiered to a 2.0 or higher. ABC's "The Muppets" bowed Sept. 22 to a 2.9 in the so-called dollar demo, but has declined steadily ever since. The most recent episode of the Tuesday night comedy drew just a 1.3 in the 18-to-49 demo, bringing the season average down to a 2.0. NBC's "Heroes Reborn" drew a 2.0 in its series opener, only to put up back-to-back 1.1 ratings on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22.

The aforementioned "Life in Pieces" is currently averaging a 2.1 in the 18-to-49 demo and a 3.0 among adults 25-to-54. The ensemble comedy premiered five weeks ago to a 2.6/3.8.

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