The first week of the 2015-2016 TV season is in the books. And while there are still several new shows debuting in the next few weeks (Fox premieres its two new comedies, Grandfathered and The Grinder, tonight), we already have a good snapshot of how this season is shaping up, which new shows already seem likely to receive full-season pickups and which seem destined for early exits. Here's what we know so far:
Last season's biggest shows won't be dethroned. All of last season's most popular shows continue to be tops among viewers ages 18-49. Sunday Night Football (which got a 7.3 in adults 18-49 live-plus-same-day ratings) outrated everything else, while Thursday Night Football (6.0) was behind only Empire, which drew 16.2 million viewers and a 6.7 rating. The Big Bang Theory (4.7) was the week's top comedy.
Finally, some good news for NBC. Last season, the network came very close to cancelling every single one of its new 2014-2015 series, bringing back The Mysteries of Laura despite middling ratings in part to save face. But the network finally has its first new hit since The Blacklist—Blindspot took advantage of its lead-in from The Voice (3.5) to earn a 3.1 rating, which increased to 4.3 in live-plus-three. The network has already ordered nine additional Blindspot scripts, and a full-season pickup seems imminent.
Thanks to football, The Voice, and Blindspot, NBC won the first week in the 18-49 demographic, averaging 2.7, to CBS's 2.5, ABC's 1.7 and Fox's 1.6.
ABC also had a solid turnout for The Muppets (2.9, which went up to 3.8 in live-plus-three). But will the show's adult tone discourage viewers from returning for Week 2? Rosewood (2.4) took advantage of its cushy time slot right before Empire. Other shows with respectable sampling included CBS' Life in Pieces (2.6) and Limitless (1.9, which added a full point in live-plus-three), NBC's Heroes Reborn (2.0), and ABC's Quantico (1.9).
Two shows are already on life support. While no show was so abysmal in the first week that the network needs to pull it asap, two shows might have a foot in the TV graveyard. One is Fox's Minority Report, which brought up the rear in the 18-49 demo on Monday with a 1.1 rating. The other is NBC's The Player, which pulled in less than half the 18-49 audience (1.2) of time-slot competitor ABC's How to Get Away With Murder (2.6), and just one-fifth of CBS' Thursday Night Football audience (6.0). Both those shows could play out the string, but they've already dug themselves quite a hole.
Delayed viewing isn't changing much. Every year, networks caution that live-plus-same-day ratings only tell a fraction of the tale, and that the delayed viewing numbers will give a more accurate sense of who is watching. While that might be true, very few shows change their standings when live-plus-three ratings are factored in. Nine out of 10 times, if something was a hit or flop in same-day viewing, that pattern will hold with additional metrics. Minority Report, which came in last in adults 18-49 on Monday, added 0.6 in live-plus-three ratings—and still came in last on the night. Live-plus-same-day might not tell the whole story, but it gets the most important parts right.
…Except for Scream Queens. Fox, which had spent seven months promoting the debut of Scream Queens, must have been alarmed by the show's soft 1.7 debut rating in live-plus-same-day. But the network cautioned that much of its audience, younger women, would watch on a delay, and in live-plus-three, the rating did jump a full ratings point, to 2.7. Fox said the show's median age was 36, far lower than the broadcast average of 52.
The network also noted that the show's audience increased 80 percent in three days across all platforms, including 1 million views on Fox Now and Hulu (which is not included in Nielsen's ratings).
"Scream Queens is a model for contemporary viewership," Dana Walden and Gary Newman, Fox Television Group's co-chairmen and co-CEOs, said in a statement on Sunday when the live-plus-three ratings came out. "Today's numbers clearly demonstrate that not only is the show being watched heavily across multiple platforms, but those viewers watch it with urgency and want to be part of the global conversation before the next episode airs."