Big Sky debuted as part of ABC's later-than-usual fall premiere season in November, and the network put a lot of hype into attracting an audience. Now that the show is three episodes into its first season, the time is right to look at how Big Sky has been doing in the ratings. As it turns out, there are very big differences between the live numbers and the numbers from delayed viewing, and that could bode well for the David E. Kelley series if it scores a Season 2.
Let's start with the series premiere of Big Sky, which aired on Tuesday, November 17. In Live+Same day calculations that accounted for the number of viewers who tuned in to watch live, Big Sky delivered respectable but not record-setting numbers. The series premiere attracted an audience of 4.15 million people with an 0.68 rating in the key 18-49 demographic.
Where it gets interesting is when we account for delayed viewership, with THR reporting huge boosts after a week. Over the seven days following the series premiere on November 17, Big Sky more than doubled both its audience size and ratings, jumping to 8.71 million from 4.15 million and 1.47 rating from 0.68 rating. These boosts took Big Sky from ranking 36th in viewers to ranking 17th.
If Big Sky continues to experience big jumps in delayed viewership, then ABC may have its next big hit with the drama, which is impressive considering the show killed off its biggest-name star by the end of the series premiere. It's too soon to say whether the big jumps from Live+Same day to Live+7 day will be a trend that Big Sky can keep up, but looking to the early ratings for the next two episodes may yield some clues.
The second Big Sky episode aired on November 24, and the ratings and viewership are comparable to the series premiere, which isn't always the case when it comes to freshman shows. TVLine states that the second episode attracted an audience of 4.4 million and a rating of 0.7 in Live+Same day in 18-49, which is a boost in both measurements from the premiere. As for the third episode, which aired on December 1, TVLine reports a 4.1 million audience and steady rating of 0.7 in the 18-49 demo.
While Big Sky did drop from Episode 2 to Episode 3 when it comes to the number of viewers who tuned in live, the ratings remaining steady within 0.02 is an impressive feat for the new series. If the similar Live+Same numbers for the second and third weeks of the show follow what happened with the first week, then the odds are good that those two episodes will also receive substantial gains in Live+7.
That said, there are a lot of variables to consider. The massive gains for the series premiere might actually account for the jumps from the first episode to the second, with any viewers who watched the premiere late and enjoyed it tuning in live. Since shows often lose viewers from the premiere to the following episodes, that could account for the boosts.
Then again, some shows just crush in delayed viewership. Another ABC drama received large boosts after the initial broadcasts last season, while NBC has had several series that thrive post-live, including Canadian import Transplant and the long-running Blacklist. Chicago P.D. also has a history of smashing the competition in delayed viewership while consistently coming in behind its sister series in live numbers. Maybe Big Sky will be another show that is simply strongest with audiences who don't watch live.
Only time will tell. New episodes of Big Sky air on ABC Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET, following new episodes of The Bachelorette. For some more viewing options looking ahead to next year, be sure to check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.
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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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. 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).