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The past few weeks have been, at the very least, a bit difficult for many of us. We've largely had to stop doing many of the things we enjoy doing, like, you know, leaving the house for something other than a (hopefully quick) supply run, so home entertainment options have become even more important than they had been previously. People are watching a lot of TV and trying to escape reality a bit, but while the options on CBS tend to lean heavily on serious procedurals like NCIS, it turns out that that hasn't been a bad thing in a time when many folks have to make an effort to stay upbeat.
Tuesday's episode of NCIS managed to pull in 13.1 million total viewers, along with a 1.3 rating in the key demographic of adults aged 18-49. According to TV Line, this marks an increase of 21 percent in viewers and 30 percent in the demo compared to the show's last new episode. This makes for the largest NCIS audience in over a year, while also matching its season high demo from the October 1 episode.
And, the news for CBS' Tuesday ratings gets even better, because a lot of people stuck around the network to watch FBI. The sophomore series, which has already done well enough to get its own spinoff (and we'll get to that in a bit), saw 10.8 million viewers and a key demo rating of 1.1, which mark upticks of 30 percent in viewer eyeballs and 38 percent in the demo rating. These numbers give FBI its largest audience ever, as well as its best demo rating since way back in November 2018.
As for that spinoff, FBI: Most Wanted brought in 9.5 million viewers and a 1.0 rating in the key demo, meaning that the first year series has gone up 48 percent in viewership and 25 percent in the demo, and very easily hit a season high in each case. So, CBS in the time of self-isolation? Not too shabby so far.
The strong numbers mostly kept going for CBS when Wednesday night rolled around, with Survivor hitting its biggest audience in two years with 8.1 million viewers and holding steady in the key demo rating with 1.6. SEAL Team, meanwhile, had its largest audience since December 11 (5.2 million viewers), and came in with a steady demo rating (0.7). Only S.W.A.T. has dipped this week, with 3.8 million viewers and a 0.5 demo.
What do these ratings say about how people are watching TV right now? Well, first of all, these shows are already favorites and tend to be strong performers, but with people being largely house-bound nowadays, instead of catching the shows later (after getting home from shopping / parties / concerts or however they would have spent their time out-of-doors in the evening) they tuned in live when the episodes where getting their debuts.
Also, while it truly seems counterintuitive right now, there's probably a lot of comfort for many people in watching more serious shows like NCIS, FBI and SEAL Team. Sure, comedies offer lots of laughs and some good escapism, but so does watching a tight-knit group of crime-fighters chase down baddies and get them off the streets so that they can't hurt anyone else. Clear villains to stop, clear good guys to win...and they pretty much always catch the Big Bad in the end. It's much more succinct than trying to face down a foe you can't even see.