The week of February 16 saw some beginnings, some endings, and some surprises on the small screen, and the latest set of television ratings indicate that some shows are already better off than others relatively early in the 2020 winter TV season. One of the longest-running franchises may have made a mistake when switching time slots, reality TV is heating up, and Wednesday nights continue to be wild. So, before we start thinking about all the TV craziness in store next week, let's look back to what was particularly notable in the ratings following the week of February 16.
Note: all calculations are Live+Same day in the 18-49 age demographic.
NCIS: New Orleans Sinks While NCIS Swims
CBS has a good thing going with the NCIS franchise, which has kept the original NCIS (now in Season 17) towards the top in the ratings for scripted dramas. With the two spinoffs NCIS: Los Angeles (now in Season 11) and NCIS: New Orleans (now in Season 6), this is also one of the more expansive TV universes. Unfortunately, the latest change didn't yield good numbers for anything... well, except for the disturbing FBI: Most Wanted. (More on that below)
In a move that struck me as an attempt to make the NCIS universe more like One Chicago (as is my wont, apparently), CBS moved NCIS: New Orleans from its 10 p.m. Tuesday time slot to 10 p.m. Sunday to pair with NCIS: Los Angeles, airing at 9 p.m. The original NCIS held on to its 8 p.m. Tuesday slot, and NCIS is the only one of the three to increase in the week of February 16.
In its Sunday night 2020 debut, NCIS: New Orleans dropped a shocking 41% in the ratings to hit 0.5 and 26% in viewership for an audience of 5.2 million, according to TV Series Finale. This places NOLA behind NCIS: LA, which itself dropped nearly 27% to 0.6 and 5% to 6.03 million. Meanwhile, NCIS on February 18 jumped 11% for a 1.1 rating and 0.4% for 11.8 million. While the NCIS viewership rise in negligible, even remaining even in primetime (also via TV Series Finale) is an accomplishment.
Notably, FBI: Most Wanted (which claimed NCIS: New Orleans' previous 10 p.m. Tuesday slot) rose 11% for 0.7 rating and 2% for 6.23 million, winning its slot in audience size, tying in demo rating, and possibly making the NOLA crew regret having to move to Sunday.
Criminal Minds Rises With Series Finale
Criminal Minds ended its run as one of TV's longest-running scripted dramas on Wednesday, February 19. The CBS series was once a powerhouse, but started running out of steam on Season 14, leading to the cancellation following a shortened Season 15. Although Criminal Minds didn't exactly dominate throughout its fifteenth and final season, it did rise for its series finale.
Criminal Minds actually wrapped with a two-hour TV event, with the final two episodes of the series airing back-to-back at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET on the night of February 19. CBS didn't hold back on advertising these episodes as Criminal Minds' series finale; throw in One Chicago taking a night off, and Criminal Minds rose in double digits for the first hour.
Yes, Criminal Minds' 9 p.m. broadcast rose 33% in the ratings for 0.8 and nearly 38% in viewership for 5.45 million, placing it second in the ratings and first in audience size among normal broadcasts in the slot. The show did drop slightly from the first hour to the second, with an audience decrease of nearly 2% for 5.35 million. Still, Criminal Minds remained steady in the ratings (according to TV Series Finale), and the 10 p.m. Wednesday slot is generally lower than 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. across the broadcast network board.
I think it's safe to say that Criminal Minds ended with a bang rather than a whimper, even if that bang is considerably less banging than the numbers Criminal Minds pulled in for its earlier seasons. Well done, Criminal Minds! Fans probably couldn't have hoped for a much stronger farewell in the ratings.
The Masked Singer Vs. Survivor In Wild Wednesday Night
Criminal Minds ending strong was a big enough deal for the finale to warrant its own entry here, but the night of February 19 was one of the wilder Wednesdays in the 2020 season so far, and that's without One Chicago airing new episodes! Actually, the absence of Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. with new episodes undoubtedly contributed to the surprising numbers across the board. First, let's take a look at The Masked Singer vs. Survivor.
Both the Fox singing competition and CBS' long-running survival series enjoyed boosts on February 19, which I do at least partially attribute to Chicago Med airing a rerun in the 8 p.m. slot. Why is The Masked Singer vs. Survivor so interesting this week? Masked Singer won in the ratings with 1.9 over Survivor's 1.4, but Survivor won in the viewership with 7.16 million over The Masked Singer's 7.02 million.
While I give Masked Singer the win since its demo lead is more significant than Survivor's audience lead, these two reality shows should be very interesting to compare moving forward. Sure, Chicago Med regularly claims a large chunk of the 8 p.m. audience, but the unscripted series should be worth watching in the ratings.
The real wildness of this Wednesday comes from NBC airing the Democratic Candidates Debate at 9 p.m., explaining why One Chicago got the week off. The debate on NBC claimed a 1.8 rating and 10.01 million viewers, and those numbers may connect to both LEGO Masters on Fox and Modern Family on ABC dropping by double digits percentage-wise in the same time slot.
Yet while the debate may have led to Fox and ABC dipping, its replacement of Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. and Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. may have contributed to Criminal Minds' boost. I'm not sure if many of the numbers from February 19 other than the closeness of Masked Singer and Survivor will mean much in the long run when there are no convenient absences of top scripted fare and an audience-grabbing special, but they're sure interesting! I love Wednesday ratings, guys.
American Idol Gets Off To An Idle Start
No, I didn't decide to delve into American Idol with its Season 3 premiere on February 16 just so I could make an "idol/idle" pun. ABC generated a lot of buzz (and shelled out a lot of money) to revive the series that started on Fox, and Idol's third season on the Alphabet Network didn't break any good records in either ratings or viewership. It won its time slot, but the dips don't bode well.
Making its 2020 debut in the 8 p.m. ET slot on ABC, American Idol dropped nearly 14% in the ratings from the previous season to a 1.5 rating and more than 7% in viewership to 8.05 million. While its ratings were double its closest competition and its audience was more than 2.5 million higher than the show in second place, starting out with notable drops isn't the best for the series, especially in a time slot that's not too competitive.
So why are these numbers interesting? Well, American Idol premiered just a week before The Voice returns to NBC, and it's difficult not to compare those two music competition series. Although they won't air against each other, with Idol on Sundays and The Voice on Mondays, they're easy to pit against each other. Idol got the jump on The Voice by premiering first in 2020, but not to great numbers. How will The Voice do with its Season 18 premiere on Monday, February 24?
So there you have the biggest, strangest, and most interesting ratings events from the week of February 16! Things could get even wilder next week with the premiere of The Voice, the One Chicago crossover between Fire and P.D., and more. Be sure to check back with CinemaBlend next week for the next ratings rundown, and keep on scrolling to check out what I had for you from the ratings last week!
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).