Thursday nights haven’t been kind to NBC in a while, though it’s largely the network’s own fault. Everyone was probably hoping things would turn around last night as audiences finally got a taste of Heroes Reborn, a limited series continuation of the original hit-turned-punchline. Even though the ratings weren’t astonishingly high, they were plenty good enough for NBC, as Thursday nights in the fall are ridiculously hard to succeed in for anyone other than ABC and the NFL. So as it stands, there’s probably no impending death for Reborn just yet.
When all was said and done, the series premiere of Heroes Reborn was watched by around 6.1 million people, which is pretty solid when you consider it was a two-hour premiere and was up against some fierce competition. It didn’t fare that well in the key 18-49 demographic, where it only reached a 2.0 rating, but at least enough older viewers tuned in to make it an arguable success. Plus, the original series always managed to rope in more viewers in the following days, even though DVR wasn’t quite as widespread at that point, so we can probably expect the final numbers to get an up-swing a few days from now.
Let’s do some comparisons. The Heroes Reborn premiere had basically the same demo rating as the Season 4 premiere in 2010, but was watched by over 1.5 million more people. In fact, this first episode pretty much beat out the entirety of Season 4, ratings-wise. Now, it definitely didn’t touch any of the earlier seasons in that respect, as Season 1 rarely got fewer than 10 million viewers, and the series premiere was watched by almost 17 million. NBC was probably hoping for something closer to that, but it’s hard to complain, as it’s been years since the network has seen these kinds of numbers on that night.
In its 2-hour block, Heroes Reborn was up against not only the first two-thirds of ABC’s Shonda Rhimes Night, but also the first hour of an NFL Football game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins. According to TV by the Numbers, the season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy was watched by 9.5 million (2.8 demo rating) and Scandal’s Season 4 premiere brought in 10.2 million (3.3 demo), while CBS’ Thursday Night Football brought in an audience 16.8 million-strong (6.0 demo). I don’t think anyone truly expected Heroes Reborn to squash any of those, but it was a nice pipe dream.
It’d be interesting to know how many of those viewers were fans of the original series, and how many tuned it without catching up first, and I also wonder how many people watched just to see Masi Oka’s Hiro back in action, without much care given for what the plot was about or what other characters were there. Since second episodes rarely net the same kind of numbers as premieres, it will really come down to how much people liked the episode to see if it will continue to please NBC, or if audiences will leave it behind for hospitals and pigskin.
If you want to keep Heroes Reborn thriving, tune in next Thursday for its regular one-hour episode, followed by The Blacklist and The Player. The power is yours. Wait, that was from some other hero.