On a Tuesday that featured crossover storylines involving hit crime dramas and their spinoffs on two networks, CBS finished on top with its tandem of “NCIS” and “NCIS: New Orleans,” both of which hit season highs, even if the surges didn’t extend to “Limitless” closing the night. NBC placed second with its own crossover pair of “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago Med,” with the latter winning in demos in the night’s closing hour, while Fox saw modest results for its new two-hour comedy block, led by the return of “New Girl.”
“NCIS” ruled as Tuesday’s No. 1 program, according to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, averaging a 2.6 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 18.7 million viewers overall — up vs. its prior episode by 24% in the demo (2.1) and by 20% in total viewers (15.53 million). These are season highs for the veteran show, whose previous best came with its season premiere in September (2.5 in 18-49, 18.19 million viewers overall).
As was often the case in crossover events, it was the concluding show that benefited most for CBS, with “NCIS: New Orleans” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 17.0 million viewers overall) retaining about 90% of its progenitor’s lead-in. The second-year spinoff was up a monster 41% in the demo vs. its most recent original (1.7 on Dec. 15) and nearly hit its series high of 2.5, which it achieved on two occasions during its rookie season. Head-to-head, it beat NBC’s “Chicago Fire” by 33% in 18-49 (2.4 vs. 1.8) while more than doubling it in total viewers.
Finishing the night for CBS, the return of Bradley Cooper was unable to provide a real spark to “Limitless” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall), though it was up a tick vs. its most recent original and placed a solid second for its hour.NBC opened with the season premiere of “Hollywood Game Night” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall), which tied with the Fox comedy block for third in 18-49 for the 8 o’clock hour and was a bit below its summer average when it aired behind the strong “America’s Got Talent.” The net followed with a solid showings by “Chicago Fire” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall) and “Chicago Med” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 8.4 million viewers overall), which swapped timeslots for the night to allow the established show to help lead into the newcomer. Each drama came within a tick of its season average despite the absence of strong lead-in “The Voice,” with “Med” comfortably winning at 10 in key demos. The crossover event concludes tonight with “Chicago PD.”
For the night, NBC placed second to CBS across the board but showed big 18-49 gains vs. the comparable Tuesday a year ago (1.6 vs. 1.1).
At Fox, “New Girl” showed that it still has an audience as it kicked off its fifth season (1.4/5 in 18-49, 3.3 million viewers overall), down 0.3 from its most recent premiere in September 2014 but about where it was on the comparable night a year ago. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” also did passably at 9 (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.7 million viewers overall), not far off its Sunday average, but it was slow going for first-year comedies “Grandfathered” at 8:30 (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall) and “The Grinder” at 9:30 (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall).
ABC aired encores of comedies “Fresh Off the Boat” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall) and “The Muppets” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall), followed by special off-night originals of “Shark Tank” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall) and “Beyond the Tank” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall). “Beyond” will be airing regularly on Thursdays at 8 p.m. starting this week.
CW aired repeats of Tuesday regulars “The Flash” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 1.2 million viewers overall) and “iZombie” (0.2/1 in 18-49, 0.7 million viewers overall).