the-voice-blind-auditions

NBC retained its gold-medal ratings status one night after the Sochi Games thanks to strong returns for the “The Voice” and “The Blacklist.” The music competition was on par or up in various categories vs. its spring bow of last year while the drama topped the combined demo deliveries of the competing dramas on CBS.

Also of note, CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” impressed five weeks from its series finale, but Fox’s “The Following” hit a low as it continues to look softer in its second season.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, the sixth-season premiere of “The Voice” averaged a 4.7 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 15.7 million viewers overall — down in the demo from the 5.1 for its fall premiere but in line with its March 2013 opener (4.8). And in total viewers, this was the biggest regular-timeslot premiere for the show to date (behind only its post-Super Bowl premiere of February 2012) and its largest overall audience on any night since that Sunday airing.

The 4.7 demo rating for “The Voice” matches that of January’s season opener of “American Idol.” The Fox show drew 15.2 million total viewers that night.

At 10 p.m., “The Blacklist” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 11.3 million viewers overall) was nearly at the level of its last airing opposite “The Voice” (a 3.2 in the demo and 11.7 million total viewers on Dec. 2) and up vs. its January average without the music show behind it (2.4 in 18-49, 9.5 million total viewers). It beat the combined 18-49 scores of ABC’s “Castle” (1.7) and CBS’ “Intelligence” (1.2).

The James Spader drama saw particularly big DVR gains in the January weeks when it didn’t have the big live lead-in from “The Voice.” Its Jan. 27 episode set an all-time U.S. television record, growing by 6.67 million viewers from same-night to L+7 (10.17 million to 16.84 million).

Elsewhere, ABC placed second behind “The Bachelor” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 8.1 million viewers overall), which was up a bit from its performances opposite the Olympics the previous two weeks and placed second in 18-49 to “The Voice” in three of its four half-hours. Despite facing “The Voice,” the dating show had its top scores in women 18-34 (3.6/10) and women 18-49 (3.7/9) since its Jan. 6 season premiere.

At 10, “Castle” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 8.7 million viewers overall) matched its week-earlier score.

CBS opened very well with “How I Met Your Mother” (3.6/11 in 18-49, 9.2 million viewers overall), which was second to “The Voice” in 18-49 and the easy leader in adults 18-34 (3.6 to 2.7), a category in which it stood as Monday’s No. 1 program. From there, though, the Eye saw declining returns with each half-hour as it aired original episodes of half-hours “2 Broke Girls” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.9 million viewers overall), “Mike & Molly” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 8.1 million viewers overall) and “Mom” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 7.2 million viewers overall), followed by “Intelligence” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall).

At Fox, “Almost Human” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 5.7 million viewers overall) and “The Following” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall) were both down a tick from last week, with the latter hitting a low. The Kevin Bacon drama did a 2.3 rating on the night of the spring premiere of “The Voice” in March of last year.

CW’s “Star-Crossed” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 1.1 million viewers overall) was down slightly from its modest bow opposite the Olympics a week ago, and was followed by a repeat of “Beauty and the Beast” in its new time period (0.2/0 in 18-49, 0.6 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 4.2/11; ABC, 2.2/6; CBS, 2.1/6; Fox, 1.6/4; CW, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: NBC, 14.2 million; ABC, 8.3 million; CBS, 7.2 million; Fox, 5.1 million; CW, 0.8 million.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more