The show premiered its new season to a 1.0 rating and just under 8 million total viewers. That’s the same rating as the Fall 2018 season premiere which was watched by 7.7 million viewers.
The ABC dancing show narrowly lost out in the key 18-49 demographic on Monday night to the “American Ninja Warrior” finale on NBC, which scored a 1.1 rating and 5.4 million total viewers. However, this isn’t necessarily surprising given that the audience for “DWTS” skews older. The show has faced a decline in 18-49 ratings over the past two cycles, falling 32% from an average of 1.37 in 2017 to 0.93 in 2018 season.
The Disney-owned network faced considerable backlash after casting the former White House press secretary, with Variety critic Caroline Famke labeling his inclusion “a cynical ratings grab.”
“The number of headlines surrounding his mere casting guarantee an outsized amount of interest in a season whose biggest cast members otherwise include James Van Der Beek and a Bachelorette,” Framke wrote at the time Spicer’s casting was announced.
Spicer responded by saying that he hoped his role as a contestant on the show would help “move the country forward in a positive way.”
This season’s other dancers include country music star Lauren Alaina, pop star Ally Brooke, “The Bachelorette” star Hannah Brown, “Queer Eye” co-host Karamo Brown, TV star Kate Flannery, NFL hall of famer Ray Lewis, comedian Kel Mitchell, former NBA champion Lamar Odom, TV star James Van Der Beek, and singer Mary Wilson. Christine Brinkley pulled out of the cast at the last minute due to injury and was replaced by her daughter Sailor Brinkley-Cook.
NBC only just beat ABC to top the overall ratings for Monday night with a 0.9 average rating to the latter’s 0.8. CBS, which aired only re-runs, came in at a 0.4.