I don't know what it is, but 2016's slate of new TV shows has been one of the best in recent memory, and that includes cable channels, streaming outlets and broadcast networks. One of the most popular freshman series is Kiefer Sutherland's political thriller Designated Survivor, and ABC has expressed its happiness and faith in the series by giving it and the similarly acclaimed family comedy Speechless full season orders, bringing each show's total number of episodes to 22. Party in the Oval Office!
Designated Survivor getting a guaranteed back nine episodes is one of the least unexpected news stories that could have come out today. Audiences love Kiefer Sutherland, as 24 fanatics can attest, and they have tuned out in droves for the new thriller. In it, Sutherland plays Tom Kirkman, a low-level government cog who gets hoisted into the position of POTUS after a deadly terrorist attack, and it's up to him and other somewhat inexperienced D.C. citizens to figure out if and when other attacks are following. It's a real winner, too, as you can read in our review.
In its 10:00 p.m. ET timeslot on Wednesday evenings, Designated Survivor was watched by over 10 million people for its premiere episode, with the live audience dipping to just under 8 million for the second episode. Those numbers are impressive on their own - it's the most successful show in the timeslot for ABC in years - but Designated Survivor also wins out with its stellar DVR numbers. The premiere episode gained nearly 5 million more viewers in Live+3 Day totals, which is massive and bigger than any broadcast debut's DVR numbers in the past two years. And it's got more awesomeness yet to come.
The newest member of ABC's Wednesday night comedy block is the Minnie Driver-led Speechless, which has also made some big waves with viewers. Created by Friends writer Scott Silveri, Speechless' other big star is wheelchair-bound actor Micah Fowler as J.J. DiMeo, a teenager with cerebral palsy. The show's hilarious writing, mixed with its focus on the disabled community's place within modern society, makes it easily one of the sharpest broadcast comedies on TV.
While not AS popular as Designated Survivor, Speechless is doing just fine for itself. With a premiere watched by over 7.3 million people on the night, the new comedy also has some impressive DVR numbers, and the show is in the top 10 for both total viewers and for the key 18-49 adult demographic. (After Live+3 Day totals were accounted for, the premiere was watched by over 9.1 million people.) As well, Speechless was second behind only CBS' Kevin Can Wait in terms of key demo numbers for new comedies, and it was tied in the fifth spot for shows where the young adult demographic is concerned. Everybody loves J.J.
Without the rating issues other shows are dealing with, Designated Survivor airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 10:00 p.m. ET, while Speechless brings the laughs earlier on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET. Head to our fall premiere schedule to see when all the other new and old shows will hit the small screen.