Robin Williams Special Draws Well For ABC on Tuesday Night

Robin Williams Obit Dead
Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

One day after the shocking death of Robin Williams, an ABC primetime special on the beloved comedian scored a sizable audience — trailing only NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” for the night in all key demos.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “20/20: The Life and Death of Robin Williams” averaged a 1.7 rating/5 share in adults 18-49 and 7.2 million viewers overall. The network had been averaging about 3 million viewers in the Tuesday-at-10 hour with its regular programming this summer (“Celebrity Wife Swap”).

The young-adult rating was 55% higher than ABC’s most recent primetime news special, on Hillary Clinton in June (1.1 rating/3 share).

Cable numbers for Tuesday weren’t available early Wednesday, but Monday saw a significant spike in viewership, especially among adults 25-54. A combined 1.465 million adults 25-54 were watching during any given primetime minute on either Fox News Channel (574,000), CNN (568,000), MSNBC (180,000) or HLN (143,000), a 77% spike from the previous week’s 826,000; CNN saw the biggest surge, more than tripling its week-ago Monday average.

In total viewers, the four cable news networks drew 5.023 million viewers, up 30% from the previous Monday’s 3.873 million. FNC (2.394 million) topped its rivals combined by this measure.

Looking at Tuesday’s entertainment series action, NBC’s “Food Fighters” led off the night (1.1/4 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall), down a tick from last week. It was followed by “America’s Got Talent” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall), which matched its season low of last week but remained the night’s top program.

Prior to the Robin Williams special, ABC aired “Extreme Weight Loss” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall), which matched its prior score of two weeks ago.

CBS aired repeats of “NCIS” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 8.1 million viewers overall), “NCIS: Los Angeles” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 6.1 million viewers overall) and “Person of Interest” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall).

And Fox went with encores of “Family Guy” (0.7/3 in 18-49, 1.8 million viewers overall), “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.5 million viewers overall), “New Girl” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.2 million viewers overall) and “The Mindy Project” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.3 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 1.7/6; ABC and Univision, 1.3/4; CBS, 0.9/3; Telemundo, 0.7/2; Fox, 0.6/2; CW, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: NBC, 7.8 million; CBS, 6.3 million; ABC, 5.0 million; Univision, 3.3 million; Telemundo, 1.5 million; Fox, 1.4 million; CW, 0.8 million.

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