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‘Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’ Opens to 12.1 Million for ABC

It wins in demo opposite 'NCIS' and 'The Voice'; NBC's 'Chicago Fire' debuts well on new night

UPDATE: In Nielsen national estimates released later Wednesday, “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” grew to a 4.7/14 in 18-49 and 12.12 million viewers overall. Other changes from the prelims for Big Four programs: “NCIS” grew two ticks to a 3.6/11 while hitting 20.02 million viewers, its third largest season-opening audience in its 11 seasons; NBC’s “The Voice” edged up (4.7/13 in 18-49, 14.35m) while “Chicago Fire” edged down (2.7/8 in 18-49, 8.70m); ABC’s “The Goldbergs” came down slightly (3.1/8 in 18-49, 8.94m); no Fox show budged in 18-49.

On cable, FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” didn’t seem to notice the new competition from original dramas on ABC, CBS and NBC. It did a strong 2.4/7 in 18-49 in the 10 p.m. hour to place second to “Chicago Fire” in the demo. And on USA, six repeats of “Modern Family” averaged a 0.6 rating in 18-49 and 1.59 million viewers overall — well down in total viewers for the net from last year but up about 25% in adults 18-34.


ABC’s mission to translate Marvel’s theatrical success to the small screen is off to a rousing start.

Tuesday night’s premiere of “Marvel’s Agents of Shield” drew strong ratings in key demos and 11.9 million viewers overall despite airing opposite some of the toughest series competition any recent new show has had to endure. In fact, it was up against the most popular series on both CBS and NBC.

Thanks to a special hour of “The Voice” and a good relaunch for “Chicago Fire” on its new night, NBC won the opening Tuesday of the season in adults 18-49 for the first time since 2005. CBS led Tuesday comfortably in total viewers.

ABC, meanwhile, had its best opening Tuesday in three years.

Looking at the ratings action, the 8 p.m. hour on Tuesday saw CBS’ “NCIS” draw a whopping 19.5 million and NBC’s “The Voice,” which won’t be airing in the hour on a regular basis, attracting 12.7 million. ABC, CBS and NBC combined for 44.1 million viewers from 8 to 9.

“SHIELD,” starring Clark Gregg as the agent character he played in the 2012 film “Marvel’s The Avengers,” tied with “The Voice” as Tuesday’s No. 1 series in the adults 18-49 demo (4.6 rating). Head-to-head, “SHIELD” beat “Voice” in the demo, 4.6/14 to 4.0/12.

The 4.6 rating makes “SHIELD” the top drama premiere on any network since ABC’s “V” in November 2009 — and the best for any 8 p.m. drama since “Lost” in 2004.

ABC was able to bring men to the network, with roughly 58% of the 18-49 audience for “SHIELD” coming from guys. Compare this to last season’s averages for its returning dramas: “Grey’s Anatomy” (24%), “Scandal” (26%), “Revenge” (30%), “Once Upon a Time” (33%) and “Castle” (36%).

Airing opposite the additional monster competition on its rivals, Fox’s new comedies “Dads” (1.5 rating/5 share in adults 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall) and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall) declined sharply from their premieres of the previous week.

Following “Agents of SHIELD,” ABC launched new comedies “The Goldbergs” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall) and “Trophy Wife” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall). They won the head-to-head comedy battle over Fox’s second week of “New Girl” did a 2.1/6 in 18-49 and 4.1 million viewers overall, and “The Mindy Project” (1.5/4 in the demo and 3.0 million total viewers).

ABC has to be pleased with its performance from 8 to 10 p.m., but new 10 o’clock drama “Lucky 7” opened to weak numbers (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall).

At CBS, “NCIS” held up well among older viewers and was down just 5% from its year-ago premiere. But it was off about 15% vs. last year’s premiere in adults 18-49 and 25-54, and by larger amounts in key male demos. (Last year, ABC had “Dancing With the Stars” airing at 8.)

“NCIS” was followed by the premieres of “NCIS: Los Angeles” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 16.2 million viewers overall) and “Person of Interest” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 12.3 million viewers overall). “Person” was second to “Chicago Fire” for its hour in 18-49 and 25-54 while winning easily in total viewers.

A year ago, “Vegas” opened at 10 p.m. for CBS to a 2.5/7 in 18-49 but it enjoyed a stronger lead-in from “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

At NBC, “The Voice” averaged a 4.6/13 in 18-49 and 14.1 million viewers overall), rising with each half-hour. The music competition is off to a great start this fall, and was up from its opening Tuesday a year ago (prior to the start of the TV season) by 15% and up from its result during premiere-week Tuesday of last year (4.2) by 10%.

It was followed by the second-season premiere of “Chicago Fire” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall), which grew 56% over “Parenthood” in the timeslot a year ago; however, “Parenthood” had a considerably smaller lead-in courtesy of new comedy “The New Normal.”

Compared to its series debut of last year (on a Wednesday in the third week of the season), “Chicago Fire” was up 47% in 18-49 rating (from 1.9).

Through two nights, NBC is up vs. last year by about 25% in 18-49 and more than 40% in total viewers.

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