TV Ratings: Bruce Jenner, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Lead to Big Week for ABC

ABC inspired much conversation with two programs last week: Diane Sawyer’s “20/20” interview with Bruce Jenner led all programming for the week ending April 26, according to data from Nielsen, and Patrick Dempsey’s character’s surprising death on “Grey’s Anatomy” sparked a flurry of social media responses.

“Bruce Jenner: The Interview” drew 17.10 million viewers, the best ratings for a Friday edition of “20/20” since March 2000, when Barbara Walters interviewed the parents of JonBenet Ramsey. The interview also launched opinionated articles, tweets and Facebook posts galore, with many viewers voicing their support for Jenner’s bravery. The sit-down made for the week’s No. 1 program, as well as ABC’s top primetime program of the season outside of the Oscars.

The sudden death of Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd on “Grey’s” led to a 25% spike for the drama, which drew in 9.5 million viewers, its largest audience since the second episode in October of last season (or in its last 43 original episodes). Fans of Dempsey’s character did not mourn quietly, for the most part; a particularly impassioned contingent of McDreamy’s devotees filed a petition to revive him, which currently has more than 75,000 signatures.

Despite ABC’s two big outings, CBS led the broadcast networks for the week, averaging 8.4 million viewers. ABC came in second, averaging 7.4 million viewers, with NBC (5.5 million) and Fox (3.4 million) coming in third and fourth.

The cablers were led by TNT, which drew an average of 2.8 million viewers thanks to its airing of the NBA Playoffs. The top-rated cable program for the week was HBO’s “Game of Thrones” with 6.7 million tuning in, and the No. 1 scripted basic-cable series was “Vikings” on History, drawing 2.7 million viewers.

A pair of shows ending their first seasons also fared well. CBS’ “Scorpion” ended its first year on a high note, drawing 10.7 million viewers. This was an improvement from the show’s audience of 9.5 million the previous week, making the drama the No. 5 program of the week. “Scorpion” will return for a second season.

“Fresh Off the Boat” on ABC ended its first season on a solid note, with 5 million tuning in for its season finale. The comedy’s chances of being renewed for a second season look pretty good.

For the week of April 20 to 26, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “20/20,” ABC, 17.1 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 14.6 million; “Dancing with the Stars,” ABC, 13.4 million; “The Voice – Tuesday,” NBC, 11.2 million; “Scorpion,” CBS, 10.7 million; “The Voice,” NBC, 10.6 million; “Madam Secretary,” CBS, 10.4 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.4 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 10.1 million; “Survivor,” CBS, 10.1 million.

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