Designated Survivor Just Hit A New Ratings Record, Here's What Happened

designated survivor

Kiefer Sutherland returned to primetime TV this year for ABC's high-intensity political thriller Designated Survivor, Dad-glasses and all. It has become blatantly clear that people were extremely interested in getting the actor back on the small screen, and that the strong word-of-mouth surrounding the premiere was working. Enough so that Designated Survivor has completely broken the record for the biggest ever Live+7 Day delayed audience for any network telecast. In Kiefer, we trust.

It's true that the world of TV ratings has only relatively recently shifted to placing more importance on delayed viewing, but it's obvious why those stats are getting more attention. People generally just aren't watching as much live TV as they used to, but even so, Designated Survivor netted 10 million viewers on the night of the premiere. And when the Live+7 numbers were all accounted for, the season premiere was seen by over 17.7 million viewers, meaning over 7.7 million people tuned into Designated Survivor in the six days following its live airing. That's something that not even Kiefer Sutherland's characters should be able to do, and yet...that was the sound of a record breaking that you heard.

The previous record set for Live+7 Day viewing was held by The Big Bang Theory, and I'm sure you can guess that the sitcom episode in question was the one in which Sheldon and Amy got it on. 7.18 million people watched the episode in that first week of delayed viewing, so that means Designated Survivor brought in over 500,000 more people in that timeframe.

And when it comes to that all-important key demographic of adults 18-49, Designated Survivor crushed just as hard, doubling its 2.2 Live+Same Day rating to a 4.4 delayed viewing rating. According to Deadline, that was a bigger lift than anything since How to Get Away With Murder's impressive DVR numbers back in 2014. Both the total viewers and the demo numbers would be ambrosia for the majority of everything else on TV.

Designated Survivor only recently got its episode count bumped up from 13 to 22, giving it a full freshman season (alongside fellow new series Speechless). And that was just when its Live+3 numbers were looking outstanding. (It had 5.3 million more viewers after the three days.) I wonder if we'll get to hear the network just flat-out giving the thriller a whole new season after celebrating this milestone.

Designated Survivor will hopefully continue to blow ratings records up when it airs on Wednesday nights at 10:00 p.m. ET, right after ABC's comedy block. To see when you can watch everything else in the coming months, check out our fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.