These days, as linear watching continues to fall, it is distressing to look at Live+Same Day ratings. A few shows have stood out during Premiere Week, and they all share one thing in common: they are a part of well-known procedural drama franchises or competition reality series.
NFL football continues to be the biggest draw on broadcast television, with Monday Night Football on ABC dominating the competition with 12.9 million viewers in Live+Same Day to lead Premiere Week four days in. The next three most-watched programs are Dick Wolf’s FBI (6.8 million), Chicago Fire (6.7 million), and Chicago Med (6.7 million), with Chicago Football (6.7 million), Chicago Fire, and Chicago Med taking the top three spots (6.6 million).
The top 17 most watched programs over the first four nights of Premiere Week included all three FBI and Chicago series, Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime, as well as the two Monday NCIS dramas and 9-1-1.
Outside of NFL (NBC’s Sunday Night Footfall is expected to jump to the top of the rankings by the end of the week), reality stalwarts The Voice and Survivor, and the top 17 most watched programs over the first four nights of Premiere Week included The Neighborhood, a CBS comedy, debuted at number 18, and the return of Law & Order at number 19 to complete the dominance of procedurals.
All the dramas either won their respective time slots in terms of viewers or were only surpassed by NFL football and/or The Voice. Chicago P.D., which airs at 10, was a Top 10 show in terms of total viewers, which is important to note in light of allegations that NBC is considering a move to restore the 10 PM hour to affiliates.
Classic (cop, doctor, lawyer) procedurals, already admired for their high repeatability, have emerged as a top broadcast genre, with familiarity playing a role. As a result, there has been a push to expand existing franchises, as evidenced by the recent additions of NCIS and Law & Order as well as the upcoming The Rookie spinoff and the planned The Good Doctor spinoff.
(The combination of Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 on ABC has not yet debuted, although it is predicted to be among the most watched shows along with The Good Doctor and The Rookie.)
While today’s conglomerates want to create assets that only have a short lifespan on broadcast before a long tail on streaming, linear ratings are still important since advertisers still pay a premium for them. We will probably see more procedures as a result of their continued success.
Given that long tail, it is still too early to assess the success of a serialized drama like Fox’s brand-new country music soap Monarch, but the significant audience decline from the first to the second episode is alarming.
The Blacklist, Blindspot, and Manifest, NBC’s new high-concept procedural and Quantum Leap sequel, scored quite well in its premiere but fell short of their predecessors’ instant breakout potential in the post-Voice Monday slot.
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