The Assets

Modest return for NBC's 'Community'; ESPN to win the night with college football's Sugar Bowl

Audiences flocked to the year’s first new episode of CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory” on Thursday but rejected ABC’s Cold War-set limited series “The Assets,” which premiered with a thud. NBC, meanwhile, brought back “Community” to smallish numbers and the net’s first-year comedies on the night performed even worse.

CBS dominated its rivals in both adults 18-49 and 25-54, and every show was up from its most recent original, though its lineup as a whole dropped off from the first Thursday of 2013 — perhaps due to the fact that viewers are unaccustomed to getting original episodes of shows so early in the New Year. There was also a very attractive college football bowl game on ESPN, as the Alabama-Oklahoma matchup in the Sugar Bowl was expected to win the night; it did a 9.3 overnight household rating, which was up a big 45% over last year’s 6.4 for Louisville-Florida.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “The Assets” drew a tiny 0.7 rating/2 share in adults 18-49 — the smallest ever for a drama premiere on a Big Four network — while drawing 3.8 million viewers overall. It drew less than one-fourth of the young-adult audience that “Scandal” typically does in the 10 p.m. hour while faring a little better comparatively in total viewers. ABC was hoping “Assets” could keep the lights on while “Scandal” is on its winter hiatus, but it’s likely the net would have fared better with an encore of the hot drama.

ABC did a bit better earlier in the evening with the two-hour, second-season premiere of cooking competition “The Taste” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall), though it drew roughly a half of the young-adult audience of its series premiere in January of last year. From 8 to 10 p.m., “The Taste” finished slightly ahead of NBC’s comedy block in 18-49 (1.2 vs. 1.0).

At CBS, every program in its lineup was up vs. its most recent original and won among the Big Four in key demos. The net was led as usual by “The Big Bang Theory” (5.3/15 in 18-49 and 18.9 million viewers overall), easily the night’s No. 1 program. It was followed by “The Millers” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 11.6 million viewers overall), “The Crazy Ones” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 8.2 million viewers overall) and “Two and a Half Men” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall). And at 10 p.m., “Elementary” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall) drew nearly as many young adults as the hour’s combined dramas on ABC and NBC.

The Peacock’s “Sean Saves the World” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall) and “The Michael J. Fox Show” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall) were back in originals but continue to perform poorly and hit series lows. Kicking off the night, the season premiere of “Community” did a 1.3/4 in 18-49 and 3.7 million viewers overall (down from the 1.9 it opened with last February but on par with its season finale in May), and followed it up with nearly the same numbers for a second episode at 8:30 (1.2/3 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall). In a sign of its limited appeal, it’s telling that even with CBS losing a big chunk of its audience as it transitioned from “Big Bang Theory” to “The Millers,” the cult fave “Community” could not grow its audience at 8:30.

At 10 p.m., the winter premiere of “Parenthood” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall) matched the show’s best demo score since Oct. 3 (its second episode of the season).

Fox aired special off-night encores of “Sleepy Hollow” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall) and “Bones” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall). And CW aired repeats of Thursday regulars “The Vampire Diaries” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.8 million viewers overall) and “Reign” (0.2/1 in 18-49, 0.8 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 2.7/7; Univision, 1.3/3; ABC and NBC, 1.1/3; Fox, 0.7/2; Telemundo, 0.6/2; CW, 0.2/1.

In total viewers: CBS, 10.8 million; ABC, 4.4 million; NBC, 3.3 million; Univision, 3.2 million; Fox, 2.5 million; Telemundo, 1.5 million; CW, 0.8 million.

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