At this point in its run, it's impossible to really compare The Simpsons to anything else on TV, as it has lasted longer than almost every other series in history. So there's no real metric to figure out how well a show should be doing in its 28th season, but The Simpsons is still doing something right, even in the face of TV ratings declines, as it kicked off its new season by winning out Sunday night with the highest key demo rating for all the broadcast networks' scripted shows.
When the NFL football season is kicking, it's extremely hard to declare a victory for Sunday-night series, and Fox's animated line-up hasn't been the strongest block of programming when it comes to steady viewership. But Season 28 started out quite okily dokily for The Simpsons, which earned a 1.6 rating in that sacred 18-49 demographic, putting it above its fellow Fox shows like Family Guy (1.4), Bob's Burgers (1.3) and Son of Zorn (1.2). The Last Man on Earth's excellent premiere, sadly, only nabbed a 0.9 rating.
Even when you go outside the network, The Simpsons still managed to retain a better demo rating than the season premieres of shows like Once Upon a Time, Secrets and Lies and NCIS: Los Angeles, all of which had higher total viewer counts than the animated icon, which was watched by 3.67 million people. ABC's Quantico, for all of its buzz and whodunnit appeal, brought in 3.61 million people in comparison, and only had a 1.0 demo rating.
What's more, we're now at a point in technology where the ease of streaming and DVR-utilizing make live-viewing experiences less necessary, so many shows see year-to-year declines in viewership. It's been evident already this fall season with plenty of other shows, but somehow The Simpsons has managed to defy even that, according to TVByTheNumbers. Granted, it only earned a tenth of a point more in the key demo than in Season 27, but an uptick is an uptick is an uptick. It signifies growth, and on a show where the characters only age when time-travel and dream sequences are involved.
The Simpsons does sometimes get a bit of a boost in its ratings from NFL games that run over the usual broadcast time, but it's hard to say if that was the case here or not. Son of Zorn, which definitely got helped along by the NFL's massive ratings, took a giant 50% tumble in its demo rating for its second outing. And speaking of football, Fox's overrun coverage had a 5.4 demo rating with 19.5 million viewers, while NBC's Sunday Night Football got a whopping 6.8 demo rating with 18.6 million viewers. Not as high as last week, but still solid and bringing in more eyes than animated shows are ever going to get in primetime.