Franchise fever has come to fruition this fall. A surprisingly solid launch for the 2021-22 season for the broadcast networks has yielded two series renewals so far and even more important, signs of life in primetime. Series launches with built-in franchises have performed well, but viewers are also checking out wholly original concepts.
CBS has given full-season orders to freshman dramas “NCIS: Hawai’i” and “FBI: International” after both shows won their respective time slots in their first week on air in Nielsen live-plus-7 ratings. The Sept. 20 fall season launch week was a predictably busy period, seeing a bevy of dramas, comedies and game shows drop debuts, as well as the return of a couple of familiar titles.
Per Nielsen, “NCIS: Hawai’i” won its 10 p.m. Monday time slot in viewers, averaging 9.3 million thus far, and it has improved the network’s performance in the slot by a whopping 381% from the same period last year. The latest iteration of the enduring “NCIS” procedural template stars Vanessa Lachey, Alex Tarrant, Noah Mills, Yasmine Al-Bustami, Jason Antoon, Tori Anderson and Kian Talan.
“FBI: International” put up similarly solid numbers, averaging 8.79 million viewers across its first two episodes and up 358% in the Tuesday 9 p.m. block from the same period last year. CBS’ “all- FBI Tuesdays” have been a winning strategy for the network, often dominating the night by more than 1 million viewers. The Wolf Entertainment-produced show stars Luke Kleintank, Heida Reed, Carter Redwood, Vinessa Vidotto and Christiane Paul.
Other shows with notable premieres are Fox’s digital avatar singing competition series “Alter Ego,” drama series “Our Kind of People” (inspired by the 1999 novel of the same name) and Fox’s musical dramedy “The Big Leap.” NBC has pinned a lot of hope on dramedy “Ordinary Joe,” and ABC has done the same for its reimagining of “The Wonder Years.”
“Ordinary Joe,” which debuted on Sept. 20 at 10 p.m., rose 48% in live-plus-7 versus its live-plus-same-day performance, garnering 5.7 million viewers and a 0.76 rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic. The show, led by James Wolk, came third in 18-49 and in total viewers among new dramas for Premiere Week.
Fox has claimed triumphs in Premiere Week with shows including the launch of “Alter Ego.” The A.I. and holographic talent show, described by musician, producer and “Alter Ego” judge Grimes as “the future in music,” snared 3.6 million viewers and a 0.8 key demo score. Fox’s debuts of “Our Kind of People” and “The Big Leap” each doubled their live-plus-same-day performances in seven-day multiplatform ratings, ending with a 90% boost (3.1 million viewers) and a 96% boost (2.9 million viewers), respectively. “Our Kind of People,” set in Oak Bluffs, Mass., and starring Yaya DaCosta, Lance Gross, Rhyon Nicole Brown, Joe Morton and Morris Chestnut, has ranked as the season’s top new program among Black viewers in the adults 18-49 demographic.
ABC’s “The Wonder Years,” a reboot of the original ’80s coming-of-age dramedy that centers on the life of a 12-year-old Black boy in Montgomery, Ala., in the late ’60s, jumped to a 1.82 rating among the key 18-49 demo, up 172% over its initial live-plus-same-day stat. Moreover, the ABC comedy doubled its overall audience after seven days of cross-platform viewing, growing to 6.4 million viewers versus 3.2 million. That makes “The Wonder Years” ABC’s strongest comedy debut in two years in both total viewers and demo ratings since “Mixed-ish,” which survived on the Alphabet network for two seasons. Odds of “The Wonder Years” sticking around for a sophomore installment seem brighter when compared with “FBI: International”: The series tied with the police procedural as the top debut of Premiere Week among adults 18-49 in live-plus-7 numbers.
The season is young yet, but good news is always welcome.