Grey's Anatomy's long-awaited firefighter spinoff finally premiered on March 22 with a two-hour ABC event that got Station 19 off to an intense start. The spinoff had a lot going for it ahead of the premiere, with the star appearing on Grey's Anatomy for a backdoor pilot of sorts, a Grey's Anatomy regular moving over to the spinoff to become a firefighter, and a prime time slot behind Grey's Anatomy. The big question was whether the ratings would reflect the hype from ABC. Well, the preliminary numbers are in, and they reveal that Station 19 did well enough, but it wasn't the winner of the night.
The two-hour Station 19 series premiere scored a 1.15 rating in the key 18-49 age demographic and was watched by 5.4 million people, according to TVLine. The first hour had slightly higher numbers, with a 1.2 rating and 5.7 million viewers. The second hour dropped to a 1.1 rating and 5.1 million viewers. The total average of 1.15 rating and 5.4 million viewers places the Station 19 premiere behind the two-hour Chicago Fire event on NBC, which averaged 6.8 million viewers and a 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demo.
Station 19's demo rating of 1.15 marks a significant drop from the lead-in episode of Grey's Anatomy, which scored a 1.9 rating as the night's top scripted drama. Of course, it was not to be expected that Station 19 would hold on to the same ratings as Grey's Anatomy, but there was the chance that it would beat Chicago Fire in the night. After all, Station 19 was new, exciting, and straight out of Shondaland. Instead, Chicago Fire equaled its best-since-premiere rating for its two-hour event.
All of this said, the numbers for Station 19's premiere might not necessarily be indicative of the show's performance in the long run. The big winner of the night overall was college basketball on CBS. The NCAA coverage easily swept the primetime competition with a 2.4 rating and 8.1 million viewers, marking a 20% and 14% bump from the same respective measurements in 2017. If Station 19 had premiered at a time when NCAA wasn't dominating the airwaves, the ratings and viewership might have been much higher. The numbers may change once the college basketball madness is over for the year.
We should also note that the early numbers do not take all delayed viewership into account. Plenty of people in the Video On Demand era choose to watch episodes in the days after they air, and some shows experience huge boosts thanks to delayed viewership. Perhaps Station 19 will become one such show.
We'll have to wait and see. The premiere ended on enough of a cliffhanger that viewers who stuck around for the whole two hours may want to tune back in next week, and the promise of more Grey's Anatomy crossovers could be enough to coax more Grey's viewers over to give the spinoff a try. You can catch new episodes of Station 19 on ABC at 9 p.m. ET on Thursdays. For more viewing options, take a look at our midseason TV premiere guide. If you need to figure out what shows will and will not be back next season, be sure to check out our rundown of TV renewals and cancellations.