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Fall TV season officially kicked off this past week with a whole lot of primetime series premieres and returns. The whole wild week was packed with resolved cliffhangers, highly-anticipated debuts, and all kinds of reality competition series. With so many options of what to watch, some shows were bound to do much better than others, and there were some surprises and some we totally saw coming. So, read on for a rundown of the highs and lows of this week in TV ratings!
The Emmys Bombed With No Host
Fox decided to go an in ambitious direction by producing the 2019 Emmys without a host on Sunday, September 22. This wasn't the first year that the Emmys have gone host-less, but it was a risky move to leave out a big name headlining the evening when the ratings for the ceremony have been dropping. Unfortunately for Fox, the 2019 Emmys bombed, although the broadcast did end on time, so there's that!
In Live+Same day calculations (via TV By The Numbers), the 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards scored a 1.7 rating and 6.98 million viewers in the key 18-49 age demographic. That marks a huge drop from the 2018 numbers from the NBC broadcast, which was at a disadvantage itself by airing on a Monday rather than the traditional Sunday night. The 2018 broadcast scored a 2.4 rating and won 10.21 million viewers. Something may need to give for the 2020 broadcast if the numbers are going to stop dropping.
NBC Quite Literally Kills With Chicago Returns
This week was rough on fans of the One Chicago universe on NBC, which included the Season 5 premiere of Chicago Med (which killed somebody off), the Season 8 premiere of Chicago Fire (which also killed somebody off, in a particularly gruesome way), and the Season 7 premiere of Chicago P.D. (which lost a major character this season). That said, it was a solid block when it comes to the numbers for NBC!
Although NBC didn't win the night of Wednesday, September 25 (more on that below), both Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. won their time slots, with a rating of 1.1 and audience of 7.32 million for Fire at 9 p.m. ET and a 1.1 rating and audience of 6.49 million for P.D. in the 10 p.m. ET.
Med tied for third in the ratings for the 8 p.m. ET slot with a 1.0, but according to TV By The Numbers, it came in a close second in viewership with 7.53 million behind only Fox's outing. There was only a difference of 0.1 between the ratings and a little over a million in viewership over the three hour block on NBC, and that consistency combined with the rankings were unparalleled on that night and makes the One Chicago night a big win for NBC.
Now, what was Fox's outing that dominated the 8 p.m. ET time slot on September 25?
The Egg Cracked But Fox Won With The Masked Singer
The two-hour Season 2 premiere of The Masked Singer not only destroyed the competition on the night, but it was the highest-rated broadcast of the week (aside from football) with a 2.5 in the key demographic, putting it nearly twice as high as its closest competition in the 8 p.m. ET slot on September 25, which was CBS' Survivor's Season 39 premiere with a 1.3 rating.
Egg and Ice Cream were eliminated from television's most surreal singing competition show, but Fox won big in the first episode of The Masked Singer Season 2. That said, with 8.02 million viewers, it was less than half a million above its closest viewership competitor in the time slight and of the night, which was Chicago Med with its 7.53 million people watching. In fact, the premiere wasn't even in the top five broadcasts of the week in viewership.
I'll be interested to see how the ratings and viewership change in the second week of fall TV season. The Masked Singer launched with a two-hour premiere, putting it up against competition it won't usually face and garnering a lot of hype. The 9 p.m. ET slot on Fox next Wednesday will be filled by freshman series Almost Family.
Will Almost Family get a strong start thanks to The Masked Singer as a lead-in? Will The Masked Singer's numbers drop after the initial extravaganza gives way to normal, one-hour broadcasts? Will the other 9 p.m. ET Wednesday shows -- comprised of Chicago Fire on NBC, Modern Family on ABC, and SEAL Team with its October 2 premiere on CBS -- get a boost without The Masked Singer as competition? The Masked Singer's numbers will be the ones to watch from its first week to its second this fall.
Lots Of Laughs With New And Returning Sitcoms
As a general rule, dramas and reality series in primetime score higher ratings and viewership than sitcoms, aside from exceptions like The Big Bang Theory and the massive numbers from the Roseanne revival. The dramas did by and large fare better than the comedies in the first week of fall premiere season, but most of the sitcoms held up quite well.
In fact, the Season 2 premiere of ABC's The Conners (which showed Darlene headed for trouble) tied for third on the night on September 24 in the key demo ratings with a 1.3. The only shows night of to score high ratings were This Is Us on NBC with 1.8 and The Voice on NBC with 1.6. The Conners tied with NCIS on CBS with the 1.3, although NCIS did destroy The Conners in viewership. The Conner family comedy only attract 5.77 million, compared to Gibbs and Ziva's reunion with 12.57 million.
Other comedy highlights were the Young Sheldon Season 3 premiere with a 1.0 rating/8.06 million, Mom Season 7 premiere with 0.8/6.22 million, freshman series Carol's Second Act (starring Patricia Heaton) with 0.7/5.97 million, and freshman series Bob Hearts Abishola with 0.9 rating/5.89 million, all on CBS. NBC is the comedy loser, coming in last with all of its sitcoms vs. ABC/CBS sitcoms in the same time slots.
Basically, although comedies are almost certainly never going to beat dramas and reality TV on average, the Big 3 networks got off to respectable sitcom starts in fall TV season. It is worth noting that both American Housewife and Fresh Off the Boat premiere their new seasons on ABC Friday night, with ratings not yet in at the time of writing. Still, it's safe to say that there were lots of laughs in primetime this week.
This may have been the first week of the 2019-2020 TV season, but there are still plenty of shows on the way. Be sure to swing by our fall TV premiere schedule to find out what's still on the wall.