Following a temporary and unfortunate vacation from primetime TV, Tim Allen and his Last Man Standing family finally returned to audiences for a change-heavy Season 7 on its new network home at Fox. The viewer turnout could have gone either way, especially since Fox set Last Man Standing up with its former Friday night time slot. There were only celebrations to be had when the dust settled, however, with Last Man Standing earning the biggest demo ratings of the night, as well as the biggest viewership numbers of any of Fox's scripted fall premieres.
To start off with the biggest slice of great news, Last Man Standing's political-leaning premiere earned an impressive 1.8 demo rating in the 18-49 age range. Though the sitcom's Kaitlyn Dever and other younger stars are a bigger draw for younger viewers, Last Man Standing's core audience definitely skews older, so it's highly encouraging that the premiere was able to land such a big demo stat. In comparison, both the Season 6 premiere and finale on ABC brought in a 1.1. demo rating, and this is the highest rating for any Last Man Standing episode (premiere or otherwise) since Season 2's opener, which earned a 2.0 rating in the show's first Friday night outing.
When it comes to total viewers, Last Man Standing also had a lot to be happy about, with 8.01 million fans once again familiarizing themselves with the Baxter household, according to TVByTheNumbers. That total beat out almost everything else in Friday primetime, with only CBS' consistent winner Blue Bloods finding more eyeballs, with 8.69 million viewers. Still, Blue Blood's demo rating was merely half that of Tim Allen's comedy, so I don't think anyone on the Fox series will feel like Tom Selleck's drama was the victor here.
In fact, just these early numbers show that Last Man Standing already has the potential to be Fox's biggest show of the year, since this premiere also stood so tall against the network's other big scripted debuts this week. Lethal Weapon faced some issues in its casting change-up, bringing in 3.43 million eyes and a 0.9 demo rating. Ryan Murphy's 9-1-1, following up on its calamitous finale, topped off at 6.6 million viewers and a 1.6 demo rating. The former ratings monster Empire had a higher demo rating (1.9) than Tim Allen's show, but only brought in 6.09 total viewers. Last Man Standing was only fully beaten out by the premiere of Thursday Night Football on Fox, with the NFL game earning a whopping 4.8 demo rating, with 14.45 million people tuning in.
Last Man Standing's success wasn't even solely its own to celebrate, either. The premiere absolutely helped out the debut of the over-the-hill sitcom The Cool Kids, which boasts stars David Allen Grier, Vicki Lawrence, Leslie Jordan and Martin Mull. That new comedy retained a huge chunk of the lead-in audience, with 6.79 million viewers and a solid 1.5 demo rating. And while many returning shows' premieres were lower than previous years across all of TV, Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen managed to stay even with its past season, with 3.12 million viewers and a 0.9 demo rating.
For what it's worth, Last Man Standing's politically active return also managed to top the highly anticipated Murphy Brown revival on CBS. Candice Bergen's TV news comedy, complete with a surprise Hillary Clinton cameo, was watched by 7.50 million people, and earned a 1.1 demo rating.
ABC has yet to debut its new take on the TGIF Friday night comedy block, so stay tuned to see how the competition heats up next week. Last Man Standing airs Friday nights on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET. And to see when other hilarious comedies and hard-hitting dramas will debut soon, head to our fall TV premiere schedule.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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