Though down as expected from last year’s huge launch, ABC’s “TGIT” lineup of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” again impressed in kicking off their seasons on Thursday. NBC put up a decent fight with solid numbers for the debut of its “Heroes Reborn,” but new Las Vegas-set action drama “The Player” had a lackluster bow closing the night.
CBS will win the night overall with “Thursday Night Football,” as its contest between the Washington Redskins and New York Giants averaged an 11.9 household rating/20 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights. This was up 6% in rating vs. the same matchup on the opening Thursday of the television season a year ago (11.2), which ended up averaging a 6.0 rating in adults 18-49 and 16.29 million viewers overall in combined national averages for both CBS and NFL Network.
Looking at the entertainment programs on the opening Thursday of the television season, “Grey’s Anatomy” opened its 12th season strong (2.8 rating/10 share in adults 18-49, 9.4 million viewers overall), down about 10% from last year’s premiere but matching its second best rating from last season. “Scandal” followed at 9 (3.2/10 in 18-49, 10.2 million viewers overall), down about 15% from last year (3.2) but again the night’s top entertainment series.
If there were any dark-ish clouds over ABC’s premiere Thursday of the season it was the return of “How to Get Away With Murder” (2.6/9 in 18-49, 8.4 million viewers overall). Though it more than doubled its “The Player” competition on NBC in 18-49, it was down more than 1 full point from its huge premiere last year (3.8) and came in a tick below its previous low of last season. Networks have had difficulty bringing back limited-run series after lengthy breaks, and the seven-month layoff for the Viola Davis-fronted drama seemed to have hurt its second-season premiere numbers. ABC will be hoping to see big DVR lifts for “Murder,” which was an especially strong gainer during its first season.
At NBC, “Heroes Reborn” averaged a 1.9 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 and 6.0 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m., up 46% from the network’s performance on the same night a year ago with reality show “The Biggest Loser” (1.3). NBC has had difficulty launching new series on the night, but the 1.9 for “Heroes” is a good start for he rebooted franchise. The network hasn’t done better than this from 8 to 10 p.m. with regular programming on a Thursday since the spring of 2012 with comedies including “Community” and “The Office.”
The Wesley Snipes-Philip Winchester drama “The Player” opened with a 1.2/4 in 18-49 and 4.9 million viewers overall in the 10 o’clock hour, down 0.2 from last year’s “Parenthood” in the time period.
Fox punted on the night with a repeat of Tuesday’s two-hour “Scream Queens” premiere, averaging a 0.7/2 in 18-49 and 2.1 million viewers overall. Its drama tandem of “Bones” and “Sleepy Hollow” return with new episodes next week.
NBC stayed on top in late-night, with “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” overcoming a substantial lead-in disadvantage to win over CBS’ “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” In Nielsen’s 25 markets with Local People Meters, “Tonight” led in adults 18-49 rating with a 1.0 (up a tick vs. the opening Thursday of last season), while “Kimmel” (0.9) and “Late Show” (0.7) were down 25% and 12%, respectively. A year ago on this night, “Kimmel” won over “Tonight” (1.2 vs. 0.9).
Fallon also won in households (2.6), followed by Kimmel (2.5) and Colbert (2.2).
In social media, “Scandal” was the most tweeted show of the night, according to Nielsen Social, with roughly 114,000 people sending 423,000 tweets. These tweets were seen by about 3.5 million people, and almost 24 million people saw at least one tweet about “Scandal” on Thursday.