UPDATED WITH FINALS: “Supergirl” took flight in the ratings Monday night for CBS, riding fanboy/fangirl curiosity, a strong lead-in and mostly positive reviews to tie with NBC’s “Blindspot” as the fall’s top premiere score in the key young-adult demo while leading all new shows outright in total viewers.
In Nielsen’s national estimates, “Supergirl” averaged a 3.1 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 12.95 million viewers overall from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., retaining 70% of the young-adult audience for “The Big Bang Theory” in the 8 o’clock half-hour (five-week high 4.4/14 in 18-49, 16.32 million viewers overall). The DC Comics adaptation starring Melissa Benoist tied with NBC’s “The Voice” as No. 2 behind only “Big Bang” among Monday’s entertainment series.
“Supergirl” will have to do battle starting next week without a lead-in from TV’s No. 1 comedy, though CBS has to be pleased that the superhero show’s premiere grew slightly in its second half-hour in 18-49 (3.2 vs. 3.1) while holding steady in both 25-54 (4.0) and 18-34 (1.8).
Monday’s opening for “Supergirl” is on par with what “Scorpion” bowed to last fall (3.1 in 18-49, 13.9 million total viewers) when it too was launched behind (a higher-rated) “The Big Bang Theory.”
Among the premieres this fall, “Supergirl” ties for No. 1 in adults 18-49 and 25-54 with NBC’s “Blindspot” — both from uber producer Greg Berlanti. And for all of 2015, it trails in 18-49 only AMC’s “The Walking Dead” spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead” from August (4.9), Fox’s “Empire” in January (3.8) and AMC’s “Better Call Saul” in February (3.4, airing behind “The Walking Dead”).
“Supergirl” is also the fall’s top-rated new series in all key male demos. And in total viewers, “Supergirl” bests the bows of CBS comedy “Life in Pieces” (11.3 million) and NBC drama “Blindspot” (10.6 million) to rank No. 1 for fall by this measure as well.
The gender split was interesting, with less than half of the 18-49, 25-54 and teen 12-17 audience comprised of females. But among the youngest of adults, those 18-34, femmes comprised 58% of the viewership.
Monday’s premiere exceeded most prognostications, though some thought it would have popped a bit more, given that comicbook geeks generally help series with superhero themes get off to outsized starts. ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” for example, opened in September 2013 with the highest adults 18-49 rating for any new broadcast drama in recent years (4.7) but is now doing about one-third of that in same-night numbers in its third season, and Fox’s “Gotham” opened with a strong 3.3 in September of 2014 and is currently doing less than half that for Fox early in its second season. Both shows are doing fine for their respective networks, but they’re not the juggernauts they appeared out of the gate.
A recent exception is CW’s “The Flash,” which opened to a 1.9 rating in October 2014 to become the network’s biggest premiere ever. It has held up well and is delivering in the 1.4-1.5 range this fall and remains the net’s strongest show.
Critics were generally supportive of “Supergirl,” which garnered the highest Metacritic score among the fall’s new broadcast dramas. In his review, Variety‘s Brian Lowry called it “a very good, polished pilot,” even it represents a sizable gamble for a network known mostly for its crime drama procedurals.
According to global digital marketing technology company Amobee Brand Intelligence, “Supergirl” is by far the new show generating the most discussion online this fall; in fact, there’s already been more than three times the digital content engagement around the show on Tuesday than any other newcomer on the day after in debuted. “Scream Queens,” “The Muppets,” “Quantico” and “Blindspot” rounded out the top five shows on the company’s list, but combined they weren’t as popular as the superhero show.
CBS followed “Supergirl” on Monday with a 90-minute episode of “Scorpion” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 9.69 million viewers overall), which hit a five-week high (best since its season premiere).
The competition held up pretty well opposite a stronger CBS, with NBC’s “The Voice” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 11.88 million viewers overall) up a tick and “Blindspot” holding steady (2.2/7 in 7.91 million viewers overall) to help the net edge past CBS for the night.
Fox’s “Gotham” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 4.32 million viewers overall) was up from last week as well, though its falloff in the second half-hour (1.4 vs. 1.6 at 8 p.m.) suggests that it lost some viewers to “Supergirl” at 8:30. “Minority Report” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.92 million viewers overall) held at last week’s low number.
At ABC, “Dancing With the Stars” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 11.86 million viewers overall) was down a tick with its Halloween-themed night. A repeat “Castle” closed things out (0.8/2 in 18-49, 4.47 million viewers overall).
CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (0.2/1 in 18-49, 0.67 million viewers overall) and “Jane the Virgin” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.94 million viewers overall) both were down a tick from last week.
ESPN won Monday overall with its “Monday Night Football” game between the Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals, which averaged a 4.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 12.2 million viewers overall.
VH1’s “Love and Hip-Hop” was again Monday’s No. 1 cable entertainment series in 18-49 (1.5 rating, 2.67 million viewers overall