ABC’s fading TGIT lineup was hit with another blow this morning with underwhelming early ratings returns for the debut of Thursday drama “The Catch,” the latest from Shonda Rhimes’ production company Shondaland.
According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “The Catch” averaged a 1.2 rating/4 share in adults 18-49 and 5.8 million viewers overall, retaining 75% of its demo lead-in from “Scandal.” It came in well below the 2.0 demo rating and 8.3 million total viewers of the March 2015 premiere of “American Crime” in the same timeslot, though lead-in “Scandal” was nearly twice as big then as it is now and “Crime’s” retention was just 67%.
The newcomer did beat NBC’s competing drama “Shades of Blue” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 5.0 million) but otherwise under-performed every episode of “How to Get Away With Murder” to air in the same 10 p.m. timeslot this season in adults 18-49, including that show’s finale last week (1.4). Skewing a little older than “Murder,” “The Catch” didn’t fare as poorly in total viewers. In fact, the show’s premiere total topped the final five episodes of the Viola Davis drama, including last week’s 5.2 million.
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To be sure, this isn’t the easiest week to launch a new series. Between spring breaks, the start of the Easter weekend and March Madness college basketball competition, the pool of potential same-night viewers wasn’t all that deep last night. But the early ratings also suggest that, despite significant promotion and increased buzz online in recent weeks, few went out of their way to track down “The Catch.”
“Scandal” itself was a slow starter when it bowed on the Thursday before Easter in 2012. ABC is hoping to recruit new viewers by airing a repeat of the “Catch” pilot on Monday following “Dancing With the Stars.”
ABC hasn’t had much to show for its rookie class this season, with only modest successes like “Quantico” and “Dr. Ken” (and perhaps “The Real O’Neals”). Its two other March drama premieres, “The Family” and the now-canceled “Of Kings and Prophets,” were soundly rejected by audiences.
“The Catch” had a somewhat troubled path to the screen, which included a reshoot of the pilot and several cast changes, including the introduction of Peter Krause as the male lead.
Elsewhere Thursday, “Grey’s Anatomy” (2.0/8 in 18-49, 7.9 million viewers overall) and “Scandal” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall) were about on par with last week. Ditto for Fox’s “American Idol” (1.7/6 in 18-49, 8.0 million viewers overall), which hasn’t picked up any ratings heat two weeks from its series finale.
CBS won the night with college basketball, with its stations averaging a 2.0/7 in 18-49 and 6.3 million viewers overall from 8 to 11. ABC will once again pull ahead in “live plus-3” ratings, thanks to sizable time-shifting gains for its dramas.