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chrissy metz kate pearson this is us nbc

One of the most popular new series of the 2016-2017 TV season, NBC's emotional roller coaster This Is Us made its Season 2 debut this week, and if anyone thought that this show's audience had dropped off at all over the summer, think again. This Is Us broke its own smashing viewership and ratings records, and completely destroyed everything else on Tuesday night in the key demographic.

With some reveals that caused quite a few shocked faces among audience members, This Is Us' Season 2 premiere was watched by 12.94 million people. (With the title "A Father's Advice," there's no question what audiences thought they were getting into.) That total is a series high, which is fairly far above the total for the Season 1 premiere, which came out to 10.07 million viewers. But it barely squeaked by the crowd that amassed to watch Season 1's big finale, which was 12.84 million strong. That's a great sign of how much of an audience it built as the season and hiatus went on. I'm sure quite a few of those people streamed to catch up after they heard the ridiculously good word of mouth.

And, This Is Us is bringing in the viewers in the key 18-49 demographic as well, with the Season 2 premiere earning a massive 3.9 rating. Compare that to last year's tied-for-the-top 2.8 rating for the Season 1 premiere, and it's another sign that more people kept getting hooked along the way. As well, the Season 1 finale nailed its first season high with a 3.4 rating. Will the next episode keep the tide rising, or will some viewers back off, having hoped that all the answers were coming in the first episode?

Now, This Is Us didn't actually have the biggest crowd of the night, as that went to NCIS's season premiere. That drama roped in 13.29 million people, which isn't too shabby for a show that's been on the air for that many years. On the ratings side, though, NCIS earned a 1.6 demo rating, which is less than half as high as This Is Us'. The second highest demo rating of the night went to lead-in The Voice, with a 2.7, but its viewership wasn't as high, with 10.93 million watching.

At this rate, the Kleenex industry is going to have more demand than supply happening until the winter hiatus. I'm sure no one reading this needs to be told, but This Is Us airs Tuesday nights on NBC at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see everything else hitting the small screen soon, head to our fall TV schedule.