‘Gotham,’ ‘Murder’ Top Rookie DVR Gainers in Premiere Week; ‘Flash’ is CW’s Biggest Bow Ever

How to Get Away with Murder

Another season, another record-setting start for DVR playback.

Nielsen has released the “live plus-7” ratings for premiere week, and the Big Four could point to some ridiculously large lifts. Monday in particular was a busy one for digital video recorders — but that’s what happens when you’ve got the likes of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Gotham,” “The Voice,” “Monday Night Football” and “Dancing With the Stars” scheduled for the night’s opening hour.

A handful of new shows appeared high in the DVR playback rankings, with Fox’s Batman prequel “Gotham” setting a U.S. television record for a premiere week by climbing 2.7 ratings points in adults 18-49 from its “live plus same-day” average of 3.3 to a whopping 6.0 in “live plus 7”; among all series telecasts last season, only one episode of “Big Bang Theory” rose higher from L+SD to L+7 (2.8).

The premiere of ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder” three nights later setting a record of its own by picking up nearly 7 million viewers (up 6.953 million, from 14.12 million to 21.08 million). Two other newcomers, CBS’ “Scorpion” and ABC’s “Black-ish,” were also substantial risers, as was sophomore “The Blacklist,” which returned to series highs.

The huge lift for “Gotham” marks the second straight year that a superhero-themed show saw the biggest pure 18-49 gain during premiere-week. Last year, “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” shot up 2.3 points (4.7 to 7.0).

Full-week DVR numbers weren’t available for another superhero show, CW’s “Flash,” but its premiere of last week surged in “live plus 3” numbers: up more than 30% in adults 18-49 (to 2.5 rating), adults 18-34 (to 2.1) and total viewers (to 6.42 million). It has moved ahead of the 2009 debut of “The Vampire Diaries” to become the network’s most-watched premiere ever: 6.42 million viewers.

Across the networks, six programs gained at least two ratings points in adults 18-49 during premiere week, up from four last year and two in 2012. There were 13 shows that rose at least 1.5 points, which is nearly double last year’s seven.

In total viewers, 26 shows rose by at least 1 million viewers (up from 18 in 2013) and six added at least 5 million (up from two in 2013).

Another trend this year was greater playback in days 4 through 7. Ten shows added at least three tenths of a ratings point in this window, including Fox’s “Gotham” — which gained nearly a full ratings point (0.9) with the extra four days (6.0 vs. 5.1).

On a percentage basis, six series — four of them on Fox — gained at least 60% in 18-49 rating from L+SD to L+7: ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” (71%); Fox’s “Gotham” (70%); Fox’s “Red Band Society” (69%); NBC’s “Parenthood” and Fox’s “New Girl” (both 66%); and Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” (61%).

NBC’s “The Blacklist” ended up averaging a 5.5 rating in adults 18-49, the same as its series premiere — even though this year’s opener rated 8% lower in L+SD (3.5 vs. 3.8). CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” another of the shows airing on a crowded Monday, was down 2% in L+SD but ended up a 3% gainer in L+7 (8.0 vs. 7.8). NBC’s Tuesday soph “Chicago Fire” pulled even with last year’s premiere in L+7 after being down 3% in L+SD.

And in many other instances, L+SD numbers helped ameliorate some declines seen in the same-night numbers. For example, NBC’s “The Voice” on Monday ended up down 11% in L+7 (5.4 vs. 6.1) after coming in 20% lower in L+SD (4.1 vs. 5.1). CBS’ “Person of Interest” shaved its L+SD year-over-year decline of 22% to 12% in L+7, and the net’s Friday show “Blue Bloods” (-13% in L+7 vs. -29% in L+SD) also looked a lot better. At ABC, “The Middle” originally was down 16% (2.1 vs. 2.5) but ended up off just 3% (2.9 vs. 3.0).

The updated ratings can make a difference in timeslot rankings, too. For example, ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” ended up outdrawing CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans” in 18-49 (3.6 to 3.5) even though the latter had prevailed by 0.5 in L+SD (2.5 to 2.0).

Among networks, ABC gained 0.8 in 18-49 rating (a 38% lift), a bit more than the 0.7 picked up by Fox (up 35%), CBS (up 29%) or NBC (up 23%). It remained third (2.9), but opened up a two-tenths advantage over Fox (2.7) while pulling a tad closer to NBC (3.7) and CBS (3.1).

NBC ended up winning by 0.6 over runner-up CBS, matching the net’s victory margin of last year as the biggest for any network in 11 years. The Eye, which added “Thursday Night Football” this fall, joined NBC in matching its year-ago demo rating, while ABC and Fox were both down a bit.

In total viewers, CBS gained the most and padded what had been a relatively small advantage in L+SD; it ended up with 13.245 million viewers (up 2% from last year) to 12.051 million for NBC (up 6%). ABC was also up (+4%) while Fox was down (-9%).

The Eye’s “NCIS: New Orleans” drew the most total viewers of any rookie show (21.08 million), and two other CBS scripted programs (“The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS”) also topped 20 million.

At NBC, “Sunday Night Football” remained the No. 1 primetime show of premiere week in 18-49 (8.7), and teamed with “The Blacklist” (series-high 19.33 million viewers) and four hours of “The Voice” to give the network its most-watched opening frame of the season in 11 years.

ABC claimed four of the 10 biggest broadcast gainers from L+SD to L+7: “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Modern Family,” “Scandal” and “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.” And the net ended up with six of the top 15 entertainment series among adults 18-49 (the most of any network), including two of the top three newcomers (“How to Get Away With Murder” and “Black-ish”).

As expected, the Alphabet saw the final “live plus same-day” national demo ratings for a bunch of its premiere-week shows revised downward due to a Nielsen software error that had inflated its initially reported next-day numbers. Nielsen acknowledged its error last Friday, and said that all ratings starting last Thursday (Oct. 9) were accurate.


“Resurrection” dropped the most (down 0.3), while “Once Upon a Time” and “Dancing With the Stars” fell off by 0.2. All other ABC series were down 0.1, with the exception of four — “The Goldbergs,” “Black-ish,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “20/20” — that held at their earlier number.

ABC’s weekly average was revised down 0.1 to 2.1, but the net was able to match its year-ago non-sports average for premiere week, while its rivals were all down.



Adults 18-49  
                                 2014               2013            % change
NBC                          3.7                    3.7                Even

CBS                           3.1                    3.1                 Even

ABC                           2.9                   3.1                  -6%

Fox                            2.7                    2.8                 -4%

Total Viewers
                                 2014                2013            % change
CBS                         13.25m          12.98m             +2%

NBC                        12.05m          11.41m              +6%

ABC                         10.34m           9.94m              +4%

Fox                            6.76m            7.39m              -9%

(Sept. 22-28, Week 1)

Adults 18-49                                                Live+SD            Live+7           Lift

1.  Gotham (Fox)                                                3.3                      6.0                 2.7
2.  The Big Bang Theory, 8:30 (CBS)                    5.4                      8.0                 2.6
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS)                            5.5                      7.9                 2.4
4.  How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)              3.8                      6.1                  2.3
5.  Modern Family (ABC)                                     3.8                     6.0                 2.2
6.  The Blacklist (NBC)                                        3.5                     5.5                  2.0
7.  Family Guy (Fox)                                           4.6                     6.5                  1.9
8.  Scorpion (CBS)                                              3.2                     5.0                 1.8
9.  Scandal (ABC)                                               3.8                    5.5                  1.7
10.  Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (ABC)                  2.0                    3.6                  1.6
11.  Black-ish (ABC)                                            3.3                    4.8                  1.5
11.  Sleepy Hollow (Fox)                                      2.0                    3.5                  1.5
11.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)                                  3.1                    4.6                  1.5
14.  The Voice-Monday (NBC)                               4.1                    5.4                  1.3
15.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC)                              4.1                    5.3                  1.2
15.  Chicago PD (NBC)                                        1.9                    3.1                  1.2
15.  NCIS (CBS)                                                  2.9                    4.1                  1.2
15.  Law & Order: SVU (NBC)                               2.2                    3.4                 1.2
19.  Chicago Fire (NBC)                                       2.6                     3.7                 1.1
19.  Parenthood (NBC)                                         1.4                     2.5                 1.1
19.  Under the Dome (CBS)                                 1.8                      2.9                1.1
19.  Person of Interest (CBS)                               1.8                      2.9                1.1

Total Viewers (in millions)                         Live +SD          Live +7             Lift

1.  How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)              14.123               21.076             6.953
2.  The Blacklist (NBC)                                       12.552               19.334             6.782
3.  The Big Bang Theory-8:30 (CBS)                    18.300                24.180             5.880
4.  Gotham (Fox)                                                 8.308                14.147             5.839
5.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS)                           18.077                 23.746            5.669
6.  Scorpion (CBS)                                             13.897                19.217             5.320
7.  Modern Family (ABC)                                    11.068                 15.870             4.802
8.  Person of Interest (CBS)                                10.705                 15.448             4.743
9.  NCIS (CBS)                                                  18.338                 22.473             4.135
10.  Scandal (ABC)                                            11.956                 15.973              4.017

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