Where Did Everybody Go? TV Premiere Week Ratings Sag As Young Viewers Vamoose

'The Muppets' Is Rare Point of Light On New Schedule

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The Muppets came in No. 2 after
The Muppets came in No. 2 after Credit: ABC

In a tribute to the late, great Yogi Berra (R.I.P.), let's just say that it was déjà vu all over again for the Big Four broadcast networks, as sampling on the second night of the new TV season appears to have been about as underwhelming as the first.

According to Nielsen fast national data, every returning Tuesday night drama suffered double-digit ratings declines, while the three new series were a mixed bag. Leading off the night at 8 p.m., ABC's reboot of "The Muppets" put up decent numbers, averaging 8.91 million viewers and a 2.8 among adults 18-to-49, making it the night's No. 2 rated show behind "The Voice." The preliminary data suggests that the return of Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of the googly-eyed gang attracted a fair amount of co-viewing; while adults age 50 years and up made up the bulk of the pilot's deliveries, "Muppets" won the night among young males, notching a 1.9 rating among boys age 12-to-17 and a 1.6 rating with males aged 18-to-34.

Elsewhere, the premiere of Fox's much-ballyhooed (and heavily promoted) Ryan Murphy horror spoof "Scream Queens" failed to set the world on fire, drawing a 1.7 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fox rush-ordered final live-plus-same-day data. "Scream Queens" posted a 1.6 fast national rating.

If "Scream Queens'" guaranteed demographic performance left something to be desired, the show was a hit with 'tween girls, winning the night with a 2.4 rating in the females 12-to-17 demo.

At 10 p.m., CBS took the wraps off "Limitless," a new drama based on the film of the same name. "Limitless" averaged 9.76 million viewers and a 2.5 in CBS's target demo (adults 25-54), while posting a 1.8 rating among the 18-to-49 set.

As was the case Monday night, some of broadcast's most reliable franchises were down versus their year-ago numbers. "The Voice" was off 17% with a 3.4 rating while "NCIS" notched its lowest premiere rating with a 3.6 adults 25-to-54 rating. Reversing the trend, ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat" actually improved two-tenths of a point from its year-ago time slot debut; season-to-date, the family comedy is the only broadcast show to enjoy year-to-year growth.

Networks have always banked on Premiere Week as an interval of peak sampling, but Tuesday night's PUT (or people using television) levels were discouraging. The number of adults 18-to-49 watching primep-time programming dropped 8% versus the year-ago period and overall usage in the demograhic for the last two nights is down 10%.

But the most disconcerting PUT data concerns younger viewers, who are ditching traditional TV faster than anyone could have anticipated. TV viewing among adults 18-to-24 is now down 20% versus the first two nights of the 2014-15 season, and male usage in that age range has withered by nearly a quarter (24%). While last fall was blighted by disappearing female viewers, this year it's the menfolk who are pulling the old Invisible Man routine. Per Nielsen, male 18-to-34 PUT levels over the last two nights are down 18%.

Broadcasters will have at it again tonight with a schedule that is virtually identical to last fall's Wednesday night lineup. Only Fox has a new show in the hopper, as the Miami-based forensics drama "Rosewood" premieres in front of last season's heavyweight champ, "Empire." (CBS's new medical potboiler "Code Black" bows next Wednesday at 10 p.m.)

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