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‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Sunday Night Football’ Are Week’s Top Shows As Ratings Finally Come In

A Nielsen software error created a disjointed start to the season for the networks and ratings crunchers, but things started to get back to normal this week.

The measurement service on Thursday afternoon issued the complete primetime ratings data for the third week of the TV season (Oct. 6-12) — more than two days later than its usual Tuesday morning release.

The first 17 nights of the TV season were affected by the software glitch that inaccurately credited some shows (mostly on ABC) with the viewing totals of others. Nielsen acknowledged its error late last week and re-issued program averages for premiere week (Sept. 22-28). A bunch of ABC series were revised downward in the updated nationals, while some shows on the competition (including Fox’s new “Gotham” and CBS veteran “The Big Bang Theory”) were revised upward.

Nielsen says data for every night since last Thursday has been accurate, and complete Week 2 ratings are due in the near future. (Week 3 was completed prior to Week 2 because Nielsen had to only recalculate three nights of last week.)

As it did the first two weeks of the season, NBC won the third frame of the television season in adults 18-49 with a 2.3 rating/9 share. It was followed by CBS (2.1/7), with ABC and Fox tied for third (1.8/6). CBS caught NBC in adults 25-54 (2.9 to 2.9) and dominated once again in total viewers (10.3 million vs. 8.1 million).

The Peacock was paced by “Sunday Night Football” (6.6/18 in 18-49, 18.09 million viewers overall for Giants-Redskins), though the NFL game had to settle for a second-place finish to AMC’s season premiere of “The Walking Dead” (8.7/21 in 18-49, 17.29 million viewers overall). The zombie-fest was up nearly 10% in 18-49 over its year-ago premiere to establish new records for a basic cable series.

Also of note for NBC was another winning Tuesday in 18-49 even with a clip show of “The Voice” (2.5/8 in 18-49, 9.16 million viewers overall), which was rated nearly 40% lower than the previous week’s original. And despite that lower lead-in, 10 p.m. drama “Chicago Fire” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 8.39m) won in 18-49 over its closest broadcast competitor (CBS’ “Person of Interest”) by 31%.

On Thursday, the net’s new comedy “Bad Judge” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 5.24 million viewers overall) remained low but was able to match its week-earlier premiere score. Together, it and lead-out “A to Z” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.63 million viewers overall) combined to perform a bit better than last year’s combo of “The Michael J. Fox Show” and “Sean Saves the World.”

CBS had two of the week’s top five broadcasts in 18-49 with “Thursday Night Football” (5.4/18 in 18-49, 15.85 million viewers overall, including the NFL Network’s simulcast) and “The Big Bang Theory” (4.6/15 in 18-49, 15.94 million viewers overall).

Among its new shows, “Scorpion” remained the highest-rated despite a week-3 drop (2.6/7 in 18-49, 12.05 million viewers overall), while “NCIS: New Orleans” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 15.41 million viewers overall) held at its number of the previous week.

ABC was led by “Modern Family” (3.5/11 in 18-49, 10.30 million viewers overall) and Thursday dramas “How to Get Away With Murder” (3.1/10 in 18-49, 10.81 million viewers overall) and “Scandal” (3.0/9 in 18-49, 9.52 million viewers overall). “Murder,” building slightly on its “Scandal” lead-in, was the week’s No. 4 broadcast entertainment series in 18-49 — and the top rookie of the week.

“Black-ish” was up in third week (2.8/8 in 18-49, 7.93 million viewers overall), and ranked second among the new series in 18-49.

Fox’s “Gotham” had another good showing (2.5/8 in 18-49, 6.36 million viewers overall), and the net’s low-rated Sunday newbie “Mulaney” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.19 million viewers overall) at least managed an uptick in its second week.

CW had perhaps the most impressive broadcast performance last week with the series premiere of “The Flash” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 4.84 million viewers overall).

Based on the DC Comic character and starring Grant Gustin in the title role, the well-reviewed “Flash” beat out ABC and Fox in its Tuesday 8 p.m. timeslot, placed second among adults 18-34 (1.5/6) and first among males 12-34 (1.8/8).  It was CW’s best premieres scores since “The Vampire Diaries” in 2009, and “The Flash” drew more overall viewers than any show in the timeslot on the network since the “Gilmore Girls” series finale in May 2007).

In cable, “Walking Dead’s” monster return overshadowed a huge return for FX’s anthology series “American Horror Story,” whose “Freak Show” premiere (3.1/11 in 18-49, 6.13 million viewers overall) outperformed all previous episodes of the franchise.


(Week 3: Oct. 6-12, 2014)

Adults 18-49
NBC                2.3 rating/7 share
CBS                 2.1/7
Fox                  1.8/6
ABC                 1.8/6
UNI                 1.0/3
CW                  0.8/3
TEL                 0.5/1

Total Viewers
CBS                10.32 million
NBC                 8.12 million
ABC                 7.08 million
Fox                  5.45 million
UNI                 2.80 million
CW                  2.01 million
TEL                 1.11 million
(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 8.7/21
2.  Sunday Night Football: NY Giants-Philadelphia (NBC), 6.6/18
3.  Thursday Night Football: Indianapolis-Houston (CBS/NFLN), 5.4/18
4.  Monday Night Football: Seattle-Washington (ESPN), 4.8/14
5.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 4.6/15
6.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 3.8/11
7.  Modern Family (ABC), 3.5/11
7.  Talking Dead (AMC), 3.5/10
9.  The Simpsons (Fox), 3.3/9
10.  American Horror Story (FX), 3.1/11
10.  How to Get Away With Murder (ABC), 3.1/10
12.  Scandal (ABC), 3.0/9
12.  The Walking Dead, 8 p.m.-r (AMC), 3.0/9
14.  The Big Bang Theory, 8:30-r (CBS), 2.9/8
15.  Black-ish (ABC), 2.8/8
16.  Once Upon a Time (ABC), 2.7/7
17.  NCIS (CBS), 2.6/9
17.  The Blacklist (NBC), 2.6/8
17.  Scorpion (CBS), 2.6/7
20.  Gotham (Fox), 2.5/8
20.  Survivor (CBS), 2.5/8
20.  The Voice recap-Tuesday (NBC), 2.5/8

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  Sunday Night Football: NY Giants-Philadelphia (NBC), 18.09
2.  NCIS (CBS), 17.30
3.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 17.29
4.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 15.94
5.  Thursday Night Football: Indianapolis-Houston (CBS/NFLN), 15.85
6.  NCIS: New Orleans (CBS), 15.41
7.  Monday Night Football: Seattle-Washington (ESPN), 13.12
8.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 12.58
9.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 12.32
10.  Scorpion (CBS), 12.05
11.  The Big Bang Theory, 8:30-r (CBS), 11.84
12.  Madam Secretary (CBS), 11.45
13.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 11.09
14.  How to Get Away With Murder (ABC), 10.81
15.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 10.57
16.  The Good Wife (CBS), 10.39
17.  Modern Family (ABC), 10.30
18.  60 Minutes (CBS), 10.19
19.  The Blacklist (NBC), 10.07
20.  Survivor (CBS), 9.65

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