Ratings Analysis: ‘Black-ish’ debuts strong, ‘Laura’ audience is big and old

So you spend your morning at temple for Rosh Hashanah and you miss Fast National ratings and then you pull up Final Live+Same Day ratings for Wednesday, September 24 and…

Stop it with the “Mysteries of Laura,” America! Although the Debra Messing dramedy took a drop from last week's post-“AGT” sneak among young viewers, it still drew over 10 million viewers in its first Wednesday 8 p.m. airing, which is a success of almost mind-boggling magnitude. 

It's such a big success that it thoroughly distracts me from nearly all of Wednesday's other notables, which include a terrific premiere for “Black-ish,” an impressively consistent return for the new season of “Survivor” and a solid time period transfer for “The Goldbergs.”

Things weren't all entirely positive. “Modern Family” and “The Middle” were both down from last year's premieres, while “Red Band Society” remains unable to attract an audience beyond young female viewers.

Let's get down to some analysis, starting with…

*** “Mysteries of Laura” drew 10.01 million viewers and did a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49 for NBC. The splits are pretty predictably divided by gender. Among women 18-49, you've got a 2.0 rating and a 1.0 rating among men in that age range. “Laura” has a 3.1 rating among women 25-54 and a 1.6 rating among men 25-54. It's also predictable that the audience is old. Among adults 18-34, “Mysteries of Laura” had only a 0.9 rating, lower than any show on the Big 4 Networks other than “Red Band Society.” In fact, you wanna know who loves “The Mysteries of Laura”? Older viewers. Among adults 55+, “Mysteries of Laura” was easily Wednesday's top show with a 7.8 rating. So actually, that premiere audience? Maybe it's not as impressive as it looked on the surface. No, “Mysteries of Laura” won't be swiftly cancelled, which I probably would have guessed. However, 10.01 million viewers and a 1.5 key demo rating? That's a big success for NBC, relative to both expectations and what “Revolution” did in that time period for most of last season. HOWEVER… If that key demo number goes down much, even if the overall audience stays high, you know what you're looking at? Suddenly it's not an unqualified hit. It's “Harry's Law.” And while NBC would have been overjoyed to get “Harry's Law” numbers in several time periods last spring… “Harry's Law” was cancelled. So NBC can be happy, but the network would be well advised to temper the hyperbole in its on-air promotion. 

*** “Laura” contributed to “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” drawing 10.07 million viewers, up from last year's premiere, but it may also have contributed to “SVU” doing a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49, which was down from last year's premiere. Those are still good numbers for “SVU,” of course, especially since “SVU” nearly doubled its lead-in among adults 18-34 and basically did an assortment of prettier demo numbers than its lead-in. “Chicago PD” did 8.505 million viewers and a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49, equalling “SVU” in most young male demos but dipping a little among young women.

*** Speaking of young women, I'm going to skip over to “Red Band Society” quickly. With 3.43 million viewers and a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49. That's the smallest audience and lowest 18-49 demo for any show on a Big 4 network. “RBS” also had the lowest 18-34 and 25-54 number for any show on a Big 4 network. BUT… Among viewers 12-34, “Red Band Society” did a 0.9 rating, the SECOND worst among any show on the Big 4 network. Sadly for FOX, “Hell's Kitchen” had the lowest 12-34 number for a Big 4 network with a 0.8 rating. “RBS” actually tied in that demo with “Mysteries of Laura” and “Nashville.” And if you go even younger? “Red Band Society” did a 1.1 rating among teens 12-17, which beat “Hell's Kitchen,” “Nashville” and everything on NBC. And among girls 12-17, “Red Band Society” was second for the night with a 1.8 rating, behind only “Modern Family.” I suggested it yesterday and I'll suggest it again: FOX should move “Red Band Society” to Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Those numbers are already better than “Utopia” and “Red Band Society” would actually be able to filter some young female viewers into “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project.” I'm just trying to help here, FOX.

***  Let's start with the good news for ABC. “Black-ish” premiered with 11.04 million viewers and a 3.3 rating among adults 18-49. This requires me to go through an obligatory list: “Super Fun Night” did a 3.2 key demo rating in its premiere last October, “HTLwYPFtRoYL” did a 2.9 key demo, “Surgatory” premiered post-“Modern Family” with a 2.8 key demo, “Don't Trust the B—-” premiered to a 2.9 key demo, “Happy Endings” did a 2.7 key demo and the second season of “Cougar Town” premiered post-“Modern Family” to a 3.3 key demo, but that was back in 2010. So while the “Black-ish” premiere wasn't THAT much huger than time period precedent among young viewers, the 11.04 million viewers was bigger than any post-“Modern Family” premiere since the series premiere of “Cougar Town” and, more significantly, with a 3.9 key demo rating and 11.38 million viewers, “Modern Family” was on the low side. “Black-ish” was closest to “Modern Family” among adults 25-54, where “Modern Family” did a 4.7 rating and “Black-ish” did a 4.4 rating, while the gap was biggest among adults 18-34, where “Modern Family” had a 3.0 rating to the 2.2 rating for “Black-ish.” A lot of the separation happened among women, where the gap was only 0.1 in the 25-54 demo, but grew to a full 1.1 in the 18-34 demo. Decide for yourself if there's cause for caution. Probably not today. “Black-ish” is off to a great start for ABC.

*** And all of that relentless replaying over the summer paid off with 7.31 million viewers and a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49 for “The Goldbergs.” Catty rival networks are comparing this to last September's premiere, which drew 9.1 million viewers and did above a 3.0 key demo rating, but let's be serious. That came after a premiere that “SHIELD” never approached again. By its finale in May, “Goldbergs” was down to just over 4 million viewers and a 1.4 in the key demo. So that's an absolute victory for “The Goldbergs,” especially since it improved on the 2.2 key demo rating for “The Middle,” though not on the 7.59 million viewers for ABC's long-running 8 p.m. hit. “The Goldbergs” built on “The Middle” in every under-54 demo. Among adults 55+, “The Middle” did a 4.0 rating, while “The Goldbergs” did a 3.2 rating. ABC will will take that. Happily. 

*** “Nashville” is weird. It's simultaneously a show that was almost totally saved by its DVR numbers, but the live numbers suggest no youthful viewership at all. For the full premiere, “Nashville” did 5.8 million viewers and a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49, but the 10:30 half-hour was down to a 1.3 key demo rating. The numbers are especially bad among young male viewers, which would be a problem if ABC cared about young male viewers. The 18-49 split is a 2.0 rating for women and a 1.0 rating for men. I really can't anticipate what'll happen next week when CBS premieres “Stalker.”

*** As for CBS' Reality Wednesday? “Survivor: San Juan del Sur” averaged 9.75 million viewers and a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49, while the “Big Brother” finale averaged 6.92 million viewers and a 2.6 key demo rating. “Survivor” was up in the key demo from last fall's premiere, while “Big Brother” was up from last year's finale. So CBS is pleased. Of minor note, “Big Brother” averaged a 2.0 rating among adults 18-34, beating the 1.7 rating for “Survivor” in that demo. “Big Brother” also beat “Survivor” among women 18-49.

So… What stands out as notable?