Magazine article Variety

Big Four Pack Punch in Round 1

Magazine article Variety

Big Four Pack Punch in Round 1

Article excerpt


Season's still young, but nets are off to a better start than last year

The broadcast networks, bracing for the worst this fall, have to be pleased with their collective start to the television season so far.

It's too early to make any grand pronouncements, but a handful of shows have dazzled in their debuts - unlike last year at this time when it felt like the air had already gone out of the balloon for rookie series.

Fox's "Sleepy Hollow," NBC's "The Blacklist" and ABC's "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" all shone on the drama side, while CBS' "The Crazy Ones" was a strong comedy performer.

Other half-hours, like ABC's "The Goldbergs" and "Trophy Wife" and CBS' "Mom," also fared OK.

The only show to really struggle out of the gate was ABC drama "Lucky 7," while a pair of high-profile shows, CBS' "Hostages" and NBC's "Michael J. Fox Show," came in below expectations.

The nets are increasingly preaching patience when it comes to evaluating their programs. We'll see if they take their own advice and give shows more time to breathe before giving them the hook.

At the season's outset, at least, there's not as much hand-wringing in network suites as many in the biz predicted this summer. Viewers have responded well overall to offerings on the Big Four, with viewership up a bit vs. last year through the first four nights.

Here's a look at the early returns:

NBC: The Peacock's perky performance is the main reason for the broadcasters' overall gains, with the net up vs. last year on each of the first four nights.

"The Voice" returned stronger than expected (hitting a 5.1 in 18-49 with its premiere and a 4.7 for its second night). And it provided potent lead-ins for a pair of dramas: newcomer "The Blacklist" (3.8 in 18-49) and sophomore "Chicago Fire" (2.7).

Both of these shows won their hour in 18-49, as did "Law & Order: SVU," with its extended episode on Wednesday.

For the first four nights of the season, NBC was the clear leader in the 10 o'clock hour, with a 2.8 average in 18-49 (to 2.2 for ABC and 2.1 for CBS).

"The Michael J. Fox Show" opened to a 2.1 for its hour, which was in line with the premiere of a fading "The Office" a year ago. (It did the same rating in both half-hours, with and without competish from "The Crazy Ones. …

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