Ratings Analysis: FOX struggles, ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ bumps up, good times roll for ‘NCIS: NOLA’

I dunno about you, but I'm already getting disturbed by the fact that we're two days into the 2014-2015 season and we're largely disaster-free.

OK. That's not exactly true. 

FOX's Tuesday is a disaster. Yes, “Utopia” gets a bigger DVR bump that most reality shows. That's a dud. And yes, “The Mindy Project” will get a nice DVR bump and it's a really good show at this point, but those numbers aren't acceptable. I'll let “New Girl” skate by for a while, just because it isn't FOX's biggest problem. 

But leaving FOX's Tuesday aside… No disasters.

Tuesday's big new premiere was “NCIS: New Orleans” and it drew a massive audience, one that it's hard to imagine any new show topping over the next couple weeks.

And Tuesday's other premiere was ABC's “Forever,” which didn't do fantastically, but when the bar was set by “Lucky 7,” “Mind Games” and “Killer Women” last season… It's a hit!

“Chicago Fire” came back strong.

“NCIS” remains impressive.

And although nobody's jumping around for joy at the numbers for “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” at least they went up from Fast Nationals.

Now let's take a deeper look at Tuesday's Live+Same Day ratings…

*** “NCIS” rose to 18.23 million viewers and also did a 2.9 rating among adults 18-49. While that's down from last year's premiere… So what? We're talking about the 259th episode of a drama in 2014. It strikes me that I haven't looked at the numbers for “NCIS” for a while, but they skew really female, with a 3.4 rating among adults 18-49 and a 2.4 rating among men in that age range. The gap is the same in the 25-54 demo, where “NCIS” does a 4.8 rating among women and a 3.8 rating among men. Yes, “NCIS” skews old, but the drama's 1.7 rating among adults 18-34 puts it above “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “New Girl” when it comes to L+SD numbers (that will no longer be true when we get to L+3). So… Yeah.

*** “NCIS: New Orleans” rose a hair to 17.225 million viewers and stayed steady with a 2.5 rating among adults 18-49. Like “NCIS,” it had a 1.0 gap between its 3.0 rating among women 18-49 and the 2.0 among men 18-49. Among adults 18-34, “NCIS: NOLA” had a 1.5 rating and its 1.3 rating among men 18-34 tied with “NCIS.” Yes, there was some dropping at the half-hour, but it was from 17.59 million viewers to 16.86 million. Either way, this beats the “NCIS: Los Angeles” premiere from last year, at least overall. Incidentally, among adults 55+, “NCIS” did a 14.3 rating, while “NCIS: NOLA” did a 14.1. “Dancing with the Stars” was second in that demo for 8 p.m. with a 7.3 rating, while “The Voice” was second with a 6.9 rating in the 9 p.m. hour. CBS is not a network for old people, BUT CBS sure as heck dominates among old people.

*** But all isn't entirely rosy for CBS. “Person of Interest” slipped to a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.58 million viewers. That's kinda hemorrhaging overall viewers. Where is “Person of Interest” struggling? EASY! I told you the gender splits for “NCIS” and “NCIS: NOLA.” “Person of Interest,” in contrast, has only a tiny female skew, 0.2 in both the 18-49 and 25-54 demos, while the 18-34 demo skews slightly male for “POI.” And although “POI” killed off one of its female leads last season, the show effectively replaced her with a pair of strong female leads, so it's not like they aren't trying. “POI” is simply darker and more mythology-based/serialized than the two shows that come before it. Like “The Good Wife” back in the day, it's not CBS enough for the time period it's in. Remember those 55+ figures from above? “Person of Interest” drops to an 8.3 rating in that demo. And people are actively turning away. The last half-hour of “NOLA” was 16.86 million viewers and a 2.4 key demo rating, that goes to 11.4 million and a 1.8 key demo for the first half-hour of “POI” and 10.02 million and a 1.7 key demo for the second half-hour. A fix could be needed at some point. Probably not any time in the immediate future. Almost certainly before next season.

*** FOX may need to act sooner than that, because 1.91 million viewers and a 0.8 rating among adults 18-49 isn't acceptable and that's what “Utopia” did last night. No matter how big the DVR bump, you can't make those numbers justifiable for in-season. “Utopia” had Tuesday night's lowest number numbers among adults 18-34, 18-49, 25-54 and 12-34. It had the night's lowest numbers among women in each of those demos. Among men 18-34, 25-54 and 12-34, “Utopia” had the night's second lowest numbers, ahead of… “The Mindy Project.” That's horrible and essentially unspinnable. Sadly, “The Mindy Project” verges on unspinnable as well with its 1.0 rating among adults 18-49 and 2.1 million viewers. With a 1.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 2.35 million viewers, “New Girl” is FOX's strongest show of the night, one of TV's most DVRed shows and it's a 20th Century Fox TV show, so its numbers are spinnable. I'm not sure what FOX is supposed to do here and some answers may be provided depending on how hard “Red Band Society” falls tonight. It's “deck chairs on the Titanic,” but I'd consider moving “MasterChef Junior” from Fridays to Wednesdays at 9 after “Hell's Kitchen.” I'd try “Red Band Society” on Tuesdays at 8 where it would be the only young-skewing drama in the time period and where it would, if nothing else, theoretically filter young female viewers into “New Girl.” And if FOX likes “Utopia,” it can stay on Fridays where at least it'll do less damage, but I can't say if I'd go two hours on Friday or just one paired with a “Gotham” repeat or something. Still… Ugly. [A year ago, in its second week, “Dads” was taking a big drop from its strong premiere, but it still averaged 3.65 million viewers and a 1.5 key demo rating.] 

*** “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” ticked up to a 2.1 rating among adults 18-49 and drew 5.94 million viewers in its second season premiere. Getting “S.H.I.E.L.D.” away from “NCIS” was supposed to help and, if it helped, it didn't help much. Although its audience is fairly evenly split, young male demos are this show's bread-and-butter and with a 1.6 rating among men 18-34, it was Tuesday's top scripted show (albeit far behind “The Voice”). Among men 18-49, it had a 2.1 rating, which topped everything other than “The Voice” and “NCIS” on Tuesday. “S.H.I.E.L.D.” built on the 1.7 key demo rating for its “Dancing” lead-in, but slipped steeply from the 9.96 million viewers for “Dancing.” A warning: “Selfie” and “Manhattan Love Story” aren't going to come anywhere near that overall number and I would be surprised — not shocked, but surprised — if “Manhattan Love Story” comes anywhere near that key demo number. Probably “S.H.I.E.L.D.” isn't lead-in-dependent, but its best hope to gain traction is probably a steady decline for “NCIS: NOLA,” which could happen. 

*** “Forever” built on its lead-in with 6.85 million viewers and also grew from “S.H.I.E.L.D.” among women 18-49 and women 25-54, while delivering a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49. Yes, “Forever” beat “Person of Interest” in the 18-49 demo. Given the difficulties with the time period, ABC shouldn't have expected anything better and after Monday night's 8.6 million viewers and 1.7 key demo rating sampling, ABC had every reason to expect worse. While “Forever” was down in every female demo from its Monday sampling, it was up in every male demo. How much of that had to do with “S.H.I.E.L.D.” actually having male viewers (unlike “Dancing”)? Some! Since I thought “Forever” was a totally painless and lightly appealing drama, I can imagine it finding stability, if not traction. Or, at the very least, I can imagine it lasting more than two episodes, which gives it an advantage over “Lucky 7.” [I also thought “Lucky 7” was painless. Nobody else agreed with me.]

*** NBC's “Chicago Fire” premiere slipped a little from Fast Nationals to L+SD with 9.14 million viewers and a 2.6 rating among adults 18-49. That's still a great return for the third-year drama. “The Voice” averaged 13.18 million viewers and a 4.1 key demo rating, down from the same night last year, but still quite fine.

That's all I have time for. As I said on Twitter, I'll be taking Fast Nationals off tomorrow morning for Rosh Hashanah, but I'll do Live+Same Day in the afternoon.

Anything jump out at you from Tuesday's numbers?