Under the Dome Season 2

CBS drama “Under the Dome,” which last year opened to some of the best summer ratings for any new show in more than 20 years, returned to lower numbers Monday as it kicked off its second season. It was the night’s top show — and delivered the top 18-49 rating and overall audience for any scripted program this summer — but it didn’t look as impressive.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “Under the Dome,” with a season premiere written by Stephen King, averaged a 2.2 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 and 9.4 million viewers overall during the 10 o’clock hour, beating out NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” repeat by more than 35% in 18-49 (1.6) and doubling up ABC’s “Mistresses” (1.1). It was the night’s No. 1 show in 18-49, 25-54 (2.9/8) and total viewers.

The series from Amblin Entertainment is already a financial winner for CBS, in part due to strong international sales and a lucrative streaming deal with Amazon Prime. It also shoots in a state, North Carolina, with generous tax credits.

But ratings still count, and “Under the Dome” was down 33% in 18-49 from its premiere of June 2013 (3.3 rating) and also off 21% from where it ended its first season in September (2.8). The only episode from last summer to rate lower than Monday’s second-season premiere was an early-September hour that was delayed in most of the country due to a sports overrun.

In total viewers, last year’s series opener delivered a big 13.53 million, and the show only dipped under 10 million a couple of times during its 13-episode run.

Despite the lower return for “Dome,” the bar has been lowered yet again this summer for same-night ratings of scripted series, as the number of viewing options and platforms only continues to rise. The highest rating for any ad-supported scripted original on broadcast or cable this summer was a 1.6 for NBC’s “The Night Shift” (which benefited from a strong lead-in).

On Monday, “Under the Dome” built on its repeat lead-in from “The Big Bang Theory” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall).

The return of “Under the Dome” seemed to bring more viewers into the broadcast tent last night, as most shows were up.

Fox’s “MasterChef” hit a summer high (1.9/7 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall), and was the night’s No. 2 show in demos, and its “24: Live Another Day” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) was up a tick week-to-week as well.

At ABC, “The Bachelorette” held steady (1.5/5 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall) while “Mistresses” edged up (1.1/3 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall) for best-since-premiere scores.

And NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” held up well with a repeat (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall), retaining more than 80% of the 18-49 rating of last week’s original.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 1.7/5; CBS, 1.6/5; ABC, 1.4/4; NBC and Univision, 1.2/4; Telemundo, 0.7/2; CW, 0.4/1.

In total viewers: CBS, 6.9 million; ABC, 5.6 million; Fox, 5.5 million; NBC, 4.0 million; Univision, 3.0 million; Telemundo, 1.7 million; CW, 1.3 million.

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