You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

When DVR Dust Settles, Broadcasters Up vs. Last Year in Premiere Week

'Agents of Shield,' 'Blacklist' are the top rookie risers; 'Big Bang' overtakes football for No. 1

It took a while, but full-week DVR playback for premiere week is in, and the broadcast networks have reason to smile.

The Big Four’s primetime programs as a group posted slight gains across the board vs. last year, according to Nielsen, with ABC, NBC and Fox all up two tenths and CBS flat. This is especially impressive since overall television usage levels were lower this year; basic cable as a group was either flat or gained by lesser amounts than the broadcasters in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers.

Looking at adults 18-49 primetime program averages (excluding football overruns), the Big Four averaged a 12.8 rating during premiere week, up 5% from last year (12.2); this is a reversal from the Live+ same-day numbers released two weeks ago by Nielsen, which had the combined scores of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox down 1% from last year (9.8 vs. 9.9).

The networks don’t necessarily benefit monetarily from viewing done more than three days after a telecast, but Live + 7 numbers are the best indicator of a show’s overall popularity on television. And every year, the DVR lifts get larger.

This fall, DVR playback is up 11% vs. last year among adults 18-49 and 23% among viewers 50 and older, according to Nielsen, as older viewers have become more comfortable with time-shifting. As a result, the premiere-week gains from Live+same-day to Live+7 are more pronounced in total viewers than 18-49.

When looking at lifts from Live+same day to Live+7, there were 18 regularly scheduled series that padded their total-viewer tallies by 3 million viewers or more in the first week of the season — up from 14 a year ago and just nine in premiere week 2011. And the ceiling continues to get higher for the biggest of the gainers, with two shows (NBC’s “The Blacklist” and CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory”) gaining more than 5 million viewers this year.

In adults 18-49, four regular series gained at least 2 full demo ratings points from Live+same day to Live+7, up from two a year ago. And 31 shows gained at least 1 ratings point, up from 27 last year and 18 in 2011.

CBS gained more than any other network in 18-49 (0.9) and also grew the most in total viewers. Its advantage over second-place NBC in overall audience mushroomed from about 700,000 to nearly 1.6 million, and the net ended up slightly from last year.

The Big Bang Theory” leapfrogged NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” as the week’s No. 1 series in adults 18-49. And in total viewers, both “Big Bang” and another CBS show, “NCIS,” moved ahead of “SNF.”

Not surprisingly, the biggest gainers among rookie shows during premiere week were the ones that did the best in same-day numbers (“The Blacklist,” “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” “The Crazy Ones” and “Sleepy Hollow.”). “Agents of SHIELD” rose 2.3 points in adults 18-49 — tying “Big Bang Theory” as the biggest overall gainer — to hit a 7.0 for its premiere. “Sleepy Hollow” grew the most on a percentage basis, up 71% (3.1 to 5.3) with its second episode.

CBS’ “Hostages,” which hasn’t done a whole lot in same-night numbers, looked better in L7 with its premiere, which rose from 1.8 to 3.0.

At Fox, Friday reality show “Junior MasterChef” gained 0.9 (1.6 to 2.5), putting it close behind ABC’s “Shark Tank” (2.6 in L7) as the night’s No. 1 show in the demo.

Among returning series, CBS’ “Elementary” and “Blue Bloods” and ABC’s “Castle” and “Revenge” were among shows that looked stronger in L7.

“Elementary” still finished premiere week down 22% from its year-ago series premiere (3.5 vs. 4.5), but that deficit was 32% in the same-night numbers (2.1 vs. 3.1). And “Blue Bloods” ended up gaining 20% from last year in 18-49 (2.4 vs. 1.7) after initially reporting a 13% lift (1.7 vs. 1.5).

At ABC, “Castle” faced two high-profile series premieres on Monday, so it’s understandable that the show had a stronger DVR showing this year; the mystery series finished up 13% vs. last year (3.4 vs. 3.0) after reporting a 5% gain in Live+same-day (2.2 vs. 2.1). And “Revenge” trimmed its deficit from 28% in Live+SD (2.3 vs. 3.2) to 19% in L+7 (3.5 vs. 4.3).

Fox’s “New Girl” finished down 21% (3.4 vs. 4.3), a bit better than the 25% it had been showing in L+SD (2.1 vs. 2.8), and it vaulted a big 13 spots in the week’s program rankings.

CW, which kicked its off season after premiere week, has seen good early DVR numbers for its shows. Last Wednesday, for example, Wednesday rookie drama “The Tomorrow People” surged 50% (from 0.54 to 0.81) in adults 18-34, and Tuesday’s “The Originals” grew 48% (0.83 vs. 1.22).

(All programs, excluding sports that started before primetime)

Adults 18-49

NBC        3.8 rating (up 6% from last year)
CBS        3.1 (Even)
ABC        3.0 (up 7%)
Fox        2.9 (up 7%)

Total Viewers

CBS        12.98 million (up 1%)
NBC       11.51 million (up 17%)
ABC         9.72 million  (down 1%)
Fox          7.53 million (up 9%)


Adults 18-49

1.  The Big Bang Theory-8:30 (CBS), 8.6 (up from a 6.1 in L+SD)
2.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 7.8 (5.5)
3.  Sunday Night Football (NBC), 7.6 (7.6)
4.  Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (ABC), 7.0 (4.7)
5.  Modern Family-9:30 (ABC), 6.5 (4.3)
6.  Breaking Bad (AMC), 6.3 (5.3)
7.  Modern Family (ABC), 6.2 (4.1)
8.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 6.1 (5.1)
9.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 5.7 (4.7)
10.  Monday Night Football (ESPN), 5.6 (5.6)
11.  The Blacklist (NBC), 5.5 (3.8)
12.  The Crazy Ones (CBS), 5.4 (3.9)
13.  Sleepy Hollow (Fox), 5.3 (3.1)
14.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 5.1 (3.4)
15.  NCIS (CBS), 4.8 (3.6)
16.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 4.7 (3.7)
17.  The Goldbergs (ABC), 4.1 (3.1)
17.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 4.1 (2.8)
19.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 3.9 (2.8)
20.  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 3.8 (2.9)
20.  Once Upon a Time (ABC), 3.8 (2.6)
20.  Law & Order: SVU (NBC), 3.8 (2.7)
23.  Chicago Fire (NBC), 3.7 (2.7)
24.  Sons of Anarchy (FX), 3.7 (2.4)
25.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 3.6 (3.0)

Total Viewers

1.  The Big Bang Theory-8:30 (CBS), 26.15 (20.44)
2.  NCIS (CBS), 24.67 (20.02)
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 24.16 (18.99)
4.  Sunday Night Football (NBC), 20.61 (20.49)
5.  The Crazy Ones (CBS), 19.73 (15.52)
6.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 19.17 (16.35)
7.  The Blacklist (NBC), 18.28 (12.58)
8.  The Voice (NBC), 17.34 (14.98)
9.  Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (ABC), 17.01 (12.12)
10.  Person of Interest (CBS), 16.76 (12.44)

More TV

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    John Singleton, the two-time Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as “mild.” According to TMZ, which first broke the news, [...]

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    WarnerMedia Pulls Out of Audience-Targeting Alliance Open A.P.

    WarnerMedia is going its own way when it comes to helping advertisers find specific groups of TV-watchers. The company, a founding member of the audience-targeting media alliance known as Open A.P., said Friday it would withdraw from the group, citing its desire to pursue its own strategy under owner AT&T. AT&T purchased Time Warner in [...]

  • BLESS THIS MESS - "The Chicken

    Listen: Lake Bell, Dax Shepard on Returning to Broadcast TV With 'Bless This Mess'

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s installment, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, chats with Lake Bell and Dax Shepard, stars of ABC’s “Bless This Mess,” which debuted on Monday. The show centers around a newly married couple, played by Bell and Shepard, who decide to ditch their shoebox New York City [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content