Ratings Analysis: Shonda Rhimes Thursday is off to a strong start

09.26.14 3 years ago


Like Dorothy Gale coming to the conclusion that in order to find her hearts desire she need look no further than her own backyard, ABC has apparently discovered that the secret to Thursday 8 p.m. success was in the network's Thursday lineup all along. 

ABC premiered “Shonda Rhimes Presents: Thursday Primetime” on Thursday (September 25) night and the results presumably exceeded all expectations, as “Scandal” hit series highs, “How To Get Away With Murder” delivered powerhouse 10 p.m. numbers and, even in its 11th season, “Grey's Anatomy” proved it still has plenty of ratings juice.

And as well as the three ABC dramas performed in preliminary Fast National numbers, all three dramas rose in Final Live+Same Day ratings.

So for one week, at least, ABC has found a Thursday 8 p.m. hit and seemingly successfully launched a Wednesday 9:30 success in “Black-ish.” And although “Forever” doesn't look like it's a blockbuster, the network's standards for Tuesday at 10 p.m. are so absurdly low that the new drama looks like a lock for improvement if not success.

ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee, who looked like he might be on the ropes last spring before a positive launch for “Resurrection,” is having a pretty good Premiere Week. How about you?

Let's look at some numbers…

*** We'll start with “How To Get Away With Murder,” because I doubt you'll find anybody at ABC who guessed 14.34 million viewers and a 3.9 rating among adults 18-49 in the office betting pool. Created — we can't emphasize this enough — by Peter Nowalk, the Viola Davis dram was Thursday's top scripted drama overall and tied for first in the 18-49 demo. And don't jump to any lazy conclusions about demographics. “HTGAWM” was Thursday's top scripted draw among men 18-49 (2.0 rating), men 18-34 (1.7 rating) and men 25-54. Among women in those age ranges, “HTGAWM” was second among scripted shows for the night. Actually, “HTGAWM” was second for all Thursday shows in female demos, because while CBS' Thursday Night Football dominated among men (and also overall), it couldn't compete with ABC among women. Want some VERY tempered concern if you're “HTGAWM”? The 10 p.m. half-hour drew 14.71 million viewers and did a 4.0 rating among adults 18-49, but the 10:30 half-hour slipped to 13.97 million and a 3.7 key demo rating. That drop was consistent across each age range and in each age range, the drop was greater among women than men. But “Scandal” also had half-hour drops, so… What are we talking about here?  ABC probably couldn't be happier.

*** Remember all of those female demos “Murder” didn't win? That's because “Scandal” won them. The Emmy-winning drama moved down an hour and premiered with 12.155 million viewers and a 3.9 rating among adults 18-49. “Scandal” topped Thursday among women 18-49 (6.0 rating to the 5.7 for “Murder”), women 18-34 (5.3 rating to the 4.5 for “Murder”) and tied with “Murder” with a 6.6 rating among women 25-54. Because Nielsen ratings make very little sense, “Scandal” actually finished last among the ABC dramas among girls 12-17, but first for the ABC dramas among boys 12-17. No, I don't think that's meaningful. It's just something I noticed while staring at the numbers.

*** And you know how you sometimes mention “Grey's Anatomy” and people are like “Is that still on?!?” The correct response to that person is, “Yes, fool.” “Grey's Anatomy” had its 8 p.m. premiere and averaged 10.14 million viewers and a 3.1 rating among adults 18-49. Could I point out that back in 2009, “FlashForward” solved ABC's Thursday 8 p.m. problems with over 12 million viewers and a 4.1 rating among adults 18-49? Sure. I guess. But what would the point in that be? Different eras! “Grey's Anatomy” is also one of TV's most reliably DVRed dramas, so this counts as an impressively successful transplantation to the 8 p.m. hour, even if “Big Bang Theory” will ultimately prove much steeper competition when it returns here.

*** “Bones” averaged 6.345 million viewers and did a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49 in its 10th season premiere. I haven't watched the premiere yet, but I hear it's shocking. Also shocking? The gender split, with a 2.1 rating among women 18-49 and a 1.0 rating among men in that age. The splits were comparable across the board. Maybe “Bones” gets a bump when football departs? And maybe a few more female viewers return after the inevitable small “Grey's Anatomy” drop next week? Or do we figure this is just what “Bones” does and what it would do no matter where FOX put it? I'm skeptical that “Gracepoint” is going to be able to make any headway against “Scandal” and football next week, but we'll see. 

*** “Parenthood” began its final season with 4.26 million viewers and a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49. And if you thought those gender splits were severe with “Bones,” “Parenthood” did a 2.0 rating among women 18-49 and a 0.7 rating among men. It did a 1.9 rating among women 18-34 and a 0.6 rating among men. This doesn't make much different, because “Parenthood” is done after this season and “A to Z” and “Bad Judge” aren't going to do anything to improve its numbers.

*** In Finals, Thursday Night Football rose to 16.29 million viewers and a 6.0 rating among adults 18-49 on CBS & NFL Network. If I'm reading my ratings doc correctly, 2.93 million of that came from NFL Network…

What jumps out for you from Thursday's numbers?

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