Ratings Analysis: ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ has a problem, ‘Gotham’ and ‘Scorpion’ do not

Everything dropped on Monday (September 29) night. Or nearly everything dropped.

That wasn't surprising and it wasn't upsetting for most of the TV networks. TV shows premiere high and then audiences dwindle for roughly the same reasons movies premiere big and then fall off 60 percent. Getting people in the door isn't hard. The challenge is getting them to come back every week. 

But the TV business now is shifting so aggressively toward Live+3 numbers that it also stands to reason that while heavily promotion encourages live viewership, it's perfectly reasonably to expect that many of the shows that suffered week-to-week declines on Monday will recover those viewers when DVRs are factored in.

That's all a round-about way to say that CBS is probably very happy with the Week 2 performance for “Scorpion.” The drama that I've dubbed “Katharine McPhee: Nerd Wrangler” premiered last week with 13.83 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49, coming out of a “Big Bang Theory” episode with 18.24 million viewers and a 5.4 key demo rating. In Week 2, with a “Big Bang Theory” repeat drawing 12.26 million viewers and a 3.1 key demo rating, “Scorpion,” after a small bump in Final Live+SD totals, drew 13.36 million viewers and a 3.1 key demo rating. If ABC is throwing a full-on parade for the opening week numbers for “How To Get Away With Murder” and “Black-ish,” CBS is surely naming a lunchroom special in Kat McPhee's honor.

The retention numbers are just astoundingly rosy for “Scorpion,” at least for one week. Among adults 18-34, “Scorpion” did a 1.9 rating for its premiere and a 1.9 rating for its second episode, even though the difference between the new “TBBT” and the “TBBT” repeat was a 1.7 in that demo. Among women 18-49, “Scorpion” did a 3.4 rating for its premiere and a 3.4 rating in the second week.

There were some male demo drops for “Scorpion.” Among men 18-49, it slipped from a 3.0 to a 2.7. Oh no! And among men 25-54, it went from a 4.4 to a 3.6. Well, that's a bit bigger, but… CBS will live. “Scorpion” got a decent, but not “Gotham”-esque, Week 1 DVR bump, so there's at least a chance that its Live+3 numbers could grow week-to-week.

But now, let's look at some of the shows that weren't as lucky as “Scorpion”…

*** FOX's “Gotham” went from 8.21 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49 to 7.45 million and a 2.8 key demo rating. Among viewers 18-34, “Gotham” went from a 2.7 rating last week to a 2.3 rating this week. Among viewers 25-54, it went from a 3.6 rating to a 3.2 rating. So let's just say that age wasn't a factor in the drop. Was gender? Well… Perhaps. Last week, “Gotham” had a slightly unexpected 18-34 split with a 2.7 rating among women and a 2.6 rating among men, but this week the split reversed with a 2.4 rating among men 18-34 and a 2.2 rating among women. But last week there was a 0.5 gap between women (3.0) and men (3.5) among adults 18-49, while this week there was only a 0.4 gap between women (2.6) and men (3.0) among adults 18-49. Similarly, the disparity between the genders shrunk among adults 25-54. But the disparity became slightly more male-heavy among viewers 12-34. So I guess we can try to say something about young female viewers tuning out at a rate slightly greater than that of older female viewers? Or you can think that was pretty OK retention and “Gotham” will make most of it up in Live+3. This was definitely a fine Week 2.

*** FOX would probably like “Sleepy Hollow,” however, to stop falling. Now. Again, DVR totals are friendly to “Sleepy Hollow,” but last week's 5.51 million viewers and 2.0 rating among adults 18-49 were a little disappointing and the numbers dropped to 5.04 million viewers and a 1.7 key demo rating this week. In both weeks, the 18-49 ratings were evenly split among men and women. Last week, though, the 18-34 numbers were +0.2 female, while this week, it was +0.1 male. So that's the same flip as “Gotham” for the week. And among REALLY young viewers, the gender thing was even more demonstrable, with last week's teens 12-17 going 1.0 for girls and 0.7 for boys and this week's going 0.9 for boys and 0.5 for girls. It's here that I say what I always say: Nielsen sampling is weird and putting much stock in week-to-week fluctuation/aberrations helps nobody. 

*** Let's go back to CBS, shall we? “Big Bang Theory” was way down this week with 16.38 million and a 4.8 key demo. Nobody will worry. However, the 9.485 million viewers and 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 premiere for “NCIS:LA”? That's dismal. This is the second straight year that CBS has taken a successful drama out of a protected 9 p.m. time period, moved it to 10 p.m. on another night and watched the numbers collapse, at least somewhat. Basically, put simply, “NCIS: Los Angeles” got clobbered by “Castle” and “The Blacklist” just like “Hostages” and “Intelligence” did last year. OK, it wasn't quite that bad, since “Hostages” and “Intelligence” were around 4-ish million viewers and a 1.5 key demo rating for most of their runs, but “NCIS: LA” did a 1.0 rating among adults 18-34 when both “Castle” and “Blacklist” did 1.8 ratings. And “Castle” is not traditionally a young-skewing show. Go up to adults 25-54 and “NCIS: LA” made it to a 2.6 rating, which was below the 2.7 for “Castle” and the 3.8 for “Blacklist.” Among teens 12-17, “NCIS: LA” did only a 0.4 rating, compared to the 0.9 rating for “Blacklist” and the 1.1 rating for “Castle.” CBS is not going to panic about that last figure, but “NCIS: LA” was the night's lowest rated show in that demo and among adults 12-34. This isn't a problem for Monday. Like I said, CBS' Monday 10 p.m. hole last year was so black that anything would be improvement. But it does cast a negative light on a show CBS presumably thought was a long-term asset just a week ago, but now may be eying Fridays next year.

*** After football-inflated Fast Nationals, “Castle” ticked down to 10.75 million viewers and a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49 for the night. That's just “Castle” being “Castle.”

Anything jump out for you here?