'Revenge,' 'Interest,' 'Time,' 'Grimm' are building blocks

There aren’t a lot of returning broadcast series that have avoided ratings declines this season, but four sophomore skeins are among those bucking the trend.

Dramas “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge” on ABC, “Person of Interest” on CBS and “Grimm” on NBC are either holding steady or up vs. last year — giving their respective nets some young pieces to feel positive about after a fall that (aside from maybe NBC’s “Revolution”) didn’t produce any new breakout hits.

According to Nielsen data through Dec. 23, original episodes of fairytale drama “Once Upon a Time” were averaging a 4.7 rating in adults 18-49 in its Sunday 8 p.m. slot, matching the delivery for its rookie season a year ago. The show has been a big DVR gainer, growing by 1.4 ratings points from “live plus same-day” to “live plus 7″ (full-week DVR playback) — the third biggest bounce for any drama this fall.

The show is the lead-in to “Revenge,” whose 3.9 average in adults 18-49 is a 5% improvement over its average on Wednesday at this point a year ago (3.7). The soap is gaining 1.3 ratings points from “same-day” to “plus-7″ this season (to 3.9 from 2.6) after rising by 1 point at this time a year ago (3.7 from 2.7).

“Revenge” is also up a tick over what previous timeslot occupant “Desperate Housewives” was doing at this time the previous year (3.8). “Revenge” and “Once” give the Alphabet a solid Sunday drama combo opposite intense competition from football and high-profile cable offerings.

ABC has another sophomore drama faring better than its initial season in Thursday drama “Scandal,” though it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, since the show premiered in the spring. Comparing its seven-week run last April and May to its perf this fall, though, “Scandal” is up 12% in 18-49 (2.9 vs. 2.6).

NBC’s Friday series “Grimm” is 7% better in its soph season (2.9 vs. 2.7 a year ago), gaining 1.3 ratings points in DVR playback this season (2.9 from 1.6); as a percentage, its 81% gain from “same-day” to “plus-7″ is the largest for any Big Four series.

And at CBS, Thursday 9 p.m. drama “Person of Interest” is up 8% from last year (4.0 vs. 3.7), taking advantage of a stronger lead-in at 8:30 this season from “Two and a Half Men.” It averages a 2.9 same-day rating in 18-49.

At the other end of the sophomore spectrum is Fox’s “New Girl,” down 29% from its promising rookie season (3.4 vs. 4.8). The show had gotten off to a big start in September 2011, but wasn’t the same in the second half of the season.

It doesn’t help that “New Girl” now has a much weaker lead-in (rookie “Ben & Kate” instead of “Glee”) and that it now competes against two other comedies in its timeslot (vs. none for most of last season).

Still, “New Girl” is Fox’s best hope for building a winning comedy block in the future.

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