ABC’s retooled “The Muppets” had a weak return to the lineup Tuesday, delivering its lowest scores to date and contributing to another ugly finish on the night the Alphabet — even if its “Fresh Off the Boat” remains a bright spot. CBS prevailed overall with its two-hour “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials,” one of several specials the network will air this week leading up to its coverage of Super Bowl 50.
According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, ABC opened the night reasonably well with the first original of “Fresh Off the Boat” in eight weeks (1.4/5 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall). The family show, whose Tuesday episode celebrated the Chinese New Year, topped the ratings of three of its final four episodes when it aired at 8:30 p.m. in the fall and finished in a three-way tie for second place in 18-49 for its 8 o’clock half-hour. It also drew its largest overall audience since its second-season premiere in September.
At 8:30 p.m., though, “The Muppets” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 2.7 million viewers overall) came in 0.3 below its fall low of 1.1 and last night’s number was less than one-third of where the show opened last September (2.9 in 18-49, 9 million viewers overall); it ranked fifth among the English-language broadcasters in 18-49 last night. The comedy made a showrunner change, but it seems that viewers are past the point of checking out how the show may have changed.
“Muppets” was followed by “Marvel’s Agent Carter” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall), which was down a tenth to its own series low. And at 10 p.m., alternative series “What Would You Do” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall) held at its low number of last week.
At CBS, “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials,” expanded from its usual hour to two in advance of Super Bowl 50, was Tuesday’s top program in both 18-49 (2.0/6) and total viewers (11.4 million); while it was in line with its demo results from last year, the special grew to its largest overall audience in 15 years on the network. A special repeat of “NCIS” closed out the night (1.2/4 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall).
NBC, second to CBS on the night, was a bit lower than usual opening the night (1.1/4 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall), but “Chicago Med” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 7.6 million viewers overall) and “Chicago Fire” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 8.2 million viewers overall) were typically solid behind it. “Fire” won its hour among the broadcasters and was the night’s No. 1 program in women 18-49 (2.2/7).
Fox was led as usual by “New Girl” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall), which bounced back from lower numbers the last couple of weeks to match its second highest rating in five 2016 airings to date. “Grandfathered” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.6 million viewers overall) and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.2 million viewers overall) held steady, with the former beating “The Muppets” by 0.2, but “The Grinder” slipped to a tiny (and series-low) 0.6/2 in 18-49 and 1.6 million total viewers.
CW’s “The Flash” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall) held even in key demos, placing as the top-rated broadcast for its hour in 18-34 (1.2/5) and men 18-34 (1.4/6) and placing second in both 18-49 and men 18-49 (1.7/6). “iZombie” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.5 million viewers overall) was about on par with its prior result as it returned after a couple of weeks off.
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 1.7/6; NBC, 1.5/5; Fox and CW, 1.0/3; ABC, 0.9/3.
In total viewers: CBS, 10.1 million; NBC, 6.7 million; ABC, 3.0 million; CW, 2.6 million; Fox, 2.4 million.