NBC’s ‘Little Big Shots’ Is TV’s Top-Rated Reality Premiere in Years

UPDATED WITH FINALS: NBC’s new Steve Harvey-hosted alternative series “Little Big Shots” opened very impressively in its special preview Tuesday night, holding nearly all of its strong lead-in from “The Voice” and dominating ABC’s premiere of “Of Kings and Prophets,” which looks to be a bust out of the gate. The Alphabet fared a little better earlier in the evening with the timeslot debut of “The Real O’Neals,” but the night overall remains a struggle for the net.

Of note on the cable front was an uptick for FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson” in the first episode since last Friday’s headline-making discovery of a knife on Simpson’s former property. And CNN was the primetime cable news leader in the adults 25-54 demo for Tuesday’s coverage of election returns (942,000) while Fox News led the way in total viewers (3.67 million).

Looking at Tuesday’s broadcast action, “Little Big Shots” averaged a 2.9 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 12.81 million viewers overall in the 10 p.m. hour, giving NBC its best numbers in the time period since the Dec. 15 finale of “The Voice.” “Big Shots” retained 94% of “The Voice” in 18-49 and 100% in 18-34 (1.8/8). It won the timeslot among the broadcast networks by 6 shares in adults 18-49, by 7 shares in adults 25-54 and by about 7.3 million total viewers.

Tuesday’s preview of “Little Big Shots” stands as the highest-rated opening episode of an alternative series in 18-49 since Fox’s “The X-Factor” in September 2011. Among all series premieres for the 2015-16 season (and excluding Fox’s reboot of “The X-Files”), “Big Shots” ties with ABC’s “The Muppets” for the No. 3-rated premiere in 18-49, behind only NBC’s “Blindspot” and CBS’ “Supergirl” (both 3.1), and it’s No. 2 in total viewers (behind only CBS’ “Supergirl” with 12.95 million).

And in total viewers, it’s the best for a new alternative series since NBC’s “The Marriage Ref” (14.44 million), which bowed following Winter Olympics coverage in February 2010.

By comparison, the first hour of NBC’s “Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris” to air Tuesday at 10 behind “The Voice” (“Best Time” had opened after “America’s Got Talent” one week earlier) averaged a 2.1/7 in 18-49 and 5.91 million viewers last September. So, “Big Shots” was roughly 40% higher in the demo and more than twice as big in total viewers.

“Big Shots” isn’t expected to perform nearly as well when it moves to its regular 8 p.m. Sunday timeslot this week, but last night’s preview ratings (including a strong 2.8/10 in the demo for its second half-hour) suggests people will search it out on its regular night. Competition on Sundays for the comedic reality series, in which Harvey goes toe to toe with the world’s most talented and extraordinary kids, will include “Once Upon a Time,” “Madam Secretary” and “The Simpsons,” and it will serve as lead-in to comedy “The Carmichaels.”

“Little Big Shots” is executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Harvey, Jeff Kleeman, Gerald Washington and Robin Ashbrook, and Alison Holloway is the co-executive producer. The series is produced by Warner Horizon Television, East 112th Street Productions and a Very Good Production.

As for “The Voice” (3.1/10 in 18-49, 13.54 million viewers overall), it seemed energized by the debut of “Little Big Shots” — and was helped by CBS airing repeats of its dramas. The music competition was up a tick from its Tuesday premiere and was the night’s No. 1 program in all key categories.

Elsewhere, ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 4.94 million viewers overall) was up a tick from its prior original of two weeks ago to match its top score in nine original airings. It was followed by the timeslot debut of “The Real O’Neals” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.99 million viewers overall), which performed respectably and topped the 0.8 average rating in the half-hour this winter for “The Muppets.”

“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.52 million viewers overall) fell to a series low as it returned from a three-month break, and thus couldn’t provide much of a lead-in for “Of Kings and Prophets” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.33 million viewers overall). The retelling of the Biblical Books of Samuel, starring Ray Winstone, came in a tick below last fall’s “Wicked City” (0.9) and becomes the latest drama misfire in the time period for ABC.

CBS flipped timeslots for repeats of “NCIS: New Orleans” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 8.48 million viewers overall at 8) and “NCIS” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 8.16 million viewers overall at 9), with the latter tying ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” in 18-49. Closing out the night, an original “Limitless” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 5.40 million viewers overall) was down 0.2 from its prior original (following an original “NCIS: New Orleans”) and hit a low.

Fox aired originals of “New Girl” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.65 million viewers overall) and “Grandfathered” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 1.94 million viewers overall), which held steady week to week and finished behind ABC’s comedies in the 8 o’clock hour. Repeats of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.45 million viewers overall) and “The Grinder” (0.5/1 in 18-49, 1.31 million viewers overall) closed the night.

CW aired encores of “The Flash” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.17 million viewers overall) and “iZombie” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.73 million viewers overall).

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