‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Ratings: Thursday Shocker Lifts ABC Show to 7-Month High

grey's anatomy ratings derek dies patrick
Image courtesy of ABC

Thursday night’s shocker — well to some anyway — on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” helped boost the veteran medical drama to its largest audience since its September season premiere.

Thursday’s episode saw the exit of one of the original castmembers, a plot point that had been leaked earlier Thursday in an Entertainment Weekly report and then confirmed by ABC late last night. The magazine hits newsstands on Friday, but most subscribers get it on Thursday, and many “Grey’s” fans knew what was coming in last night’s episode.

That certainly helped pump up the ratings for “Grey’s” on the opening night of the May sweep. According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “Grey’s Anatomy” averaged a 2.8 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 9.4 million viewers overall in the 8 o’clock hour — matching the show’s best demo score since its season premiere in September and also drawing its largest overall audience since then.

It was up 33% in the demo from the previous week (2.1) and 22% higher than the 2.3 it did on the comparable evening in the 9 o’clock hour a year ago.

“Grey’s Anatomy” was the night’s No. 2 program in adults 18-49, behind only CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (3.5 rating/13 share), which was also the most-watched Thursday program overall (14.4 million viewers). “Big Bang” was down a bit from last week’s preliminary 3.7, which went up to a 3.9 in the nationals.

Elsewhere, the “Grey’s” gains did nothing to help “Scandal” at 9 (2.3/7 in 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall), with the drama down a tick from last week but still strong enough to rule its hour in key demos; it was the night’s No. 2 drama in 18-49. Also down a tenth from last week was “American Crime” at 10 (0.9/3 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall). Next week, “Scandal” will be preempted to make for a two-hour episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” that will deal with the aftermath of last night’s episode.

ABC tied CBS for the night’s lead in adults 18-49, which would mark the first time since 2009 that the former has ranked No. 1 on the opening night of the May sweep.

At CBS, the lower “Big Bang Theory” led into a slightly softer result at 8:30 p.m. for “The Odd Couple” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 9.5 million viewers overall), though it held up well considering the strong showing in the 8:30 p.m. half-hour by ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” In its new 9 p.m. time period, “Mom” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 9.0 million viewers overall) came back to earth a little after its strong 2.2 rating last week when NBC’s “The Blacklist” was in repeat; it placed second to “Scandal” in 18-49 and edged out the ABC drama in 25-54 (2.9 to 2.8). Also lower were the 9:30 p.m. repeat of “Big Bang” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall) and 10 p.m. drama “Elementary” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 7.6 million viewers overall).

At NBC, a repeat of “The Blacklist” at 8 p.m. (0.5/2 in 18-49, 3.4 million viewers overall) was followed an original at 9 (1.4/5 in 18-49, 7.2 million viewers), which was down 0.2 (or 0.1 depending on round-offs in the nationals) from its most recent original. While the James Spader drama has seen its number decline on Thursdays this season, it’s worth remembering how much lift it gets in DVR playback; last week’s episode grew by 84% (or 1.34 ratings points) in just three days (2.03 vs. 1.59). Closing the night for NBC, “Dateline” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall), drew the timeslot’s largest overall audience since “Peter Pan Live” in December.

Fox’s “Bones” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall) and “Backstrom” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall) held steady week to week, as did CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.4 million viewers overall) and “Reign” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.8 million viewers overall).

Telemundo continues to score well at 10 p.m. with the third season of “El Senor de los Cielos” (Lord of the Skies), which did a 1.2/4 in 18-49 and 2.3 million viewers overall in the preliminaries. It ranked No. 1 among adults 18-49 in the nation’s top three markets (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC and CBS, 2.0/7; Univision, 1.0/3; NBC and Fox, 0.9/3; Telemundo, 0.7/3; CW, 0.5/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 9.4 million; ABC, 7.1 million; NBC, 5.5 million; Fox, 3.8 million; Univision, 2.6 million; Telemundo, 1.7 million; CW, 1.1 million.

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  1. Concrete Brad says:

    I’m surprised no GA character has died due to an STD.

  2. Diane says:

    She WROTE the episode Marc and it’s all over the press that he was being a “Diva” and she does” not take bulls***.” She did not do him or her fans justice. Fans matter, she was disrespectful of the character and her fans. Let’s see how much bulls** they are now going to take from her. Scandal has been going downhill the last two seasons. It’s hard to tell who the good guys and bad guys are anymore, they are all murderers. How to Get Away with Murder, is a scattered train wreck. She needs a wake up call, no fans no shows.

  3. Geri says:

    I hadn’t had a chance to read my Entertainment Weekly, but I still knew of the death – THANKS TO VARIETY PUTTING IT IN A HEADLINE!!!! What a rotten thing to do. It’s been evident all season that Dempsey has wanted out, since he has only appeared in a handful of episodes. However it still would have been nice if Variety didn’t feel the need to announce Dempsey was going in a headline.

  4. Marc says:

    Why does everyone keep acting like this was all Shonda’s idea, Patrick Dempsey has wanted to leave for a while now.

  5. Kat says:

    It will be interesting to see the numbers next week. I suppose some will come back for the aftermath, but I think many of us have just had enough. There have been good dramatic episodes on this show, but this was not good drama, unless you (like Ms Rhimes) think drama is all about shock value. That semi truck could have driven through the holes in the plot unscathed. Bad writing, less and less believable character development, I was already choosing other shows to watch in real time. Time to end this.

  6. Sylvia says:

    Thursday belongs to Shonda RImes until we wear her out.

  7. Diane says:

    Well, I hope they enjoy this short burst, they just lost most their fan base. Not only was the episode horribly written. I’m not sure what Ms. Rhimes was thinking, or if she is just angry, I don’t really care. She did not do the character justice, nor her fans. Despicable and nonsense script writing, Just plain awful plot twist. The show is not even 1/2 the quality it was and nothing compared to its first 8 seasons.

  8. Mel says:

    DVRed this show, was neither shocking or surprising, maybe more on the boring side. No incentive to watch the final episode after watching for ten years. This women can not write, a true writer would keep your interest until the very end. No Tarantino, Huston or Lupino. No shock just boredom

  9. maybe if you left the show at the 10:00 hour instead of the kiddie hour it would have been getting better ratings but was a bitch trying to get home on time, getting the dog walked , dinner over with, and sit down to to watch the show i can’t stand the murder show. It’s stupid. Love scandal. But how to get away with with murder is going to promote murders. Get that crap off TV

  10. c o says:

    Killing off a main character who has been the backbone of the show since its premier just screams of cancellation. I hate to see the end of Grey’s, but the time has come.

  11. Danielle says:

    It’s a good thing they got a season high, cause their ratings will never see those levels again. Killing Derek was the final nail in the coffin for many viewers. The plug that should have been pulled was on the show itself. Its embarrassing now compared to its origins. ABC, don’t renew it. Let it have some dignity.

  12. Michele says:

    Greys Anatomy ….What were the writers thinking? Ridiculous to kill off one of the most likeable and highly rated characters. First McSteamy now McDreamy… all that is left are a bunch of uber neurotic mostly female cast and a couple of men. I am out!

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