Fall TV season is in full swing by this point in late October, and many shows are picking up steam as they head slowly but surely toward midseason finales. More than one show recently celebrated a milestone, with Chicago Fire’s game-changing 200th episode and both The Voice and Law & Order: SVU hitting 500 episodes. Other shows are moving into new eras, while still others are keeping fans glued to their seats with twists and turns for high ratings.
Or, alternately, shows aren’t delivering the kinds of twists and turns to keep fans tuning in, and the ratings for recent weeks of the fall season indicate how some big events might be changing how people tune in to primetime television. Since ratings and viewership numbers are still important when it comes to the future of network TV shows, let’s look at some recent changes in fall TV ratings, starting with how Chicago Fire did after bidding goodbye to its longtime lead.
How Chicago Fire Is Doing In The Ratings After Losing Casey
Chicago Fire hit the 200-episode milestone with an episode that won’t soon be forgotten, as it said goodbye to Casey with a doozy of a final scene. And, as Jesse Spencer shared, a doozy of a scene that he actually filmed last. The loss of the man who had been top-billed on Fire from the very first season and was central to a lot of stories over 200 episodes could have changed the popularity of the show, and the first week following his departure could be a giveaway of what the audience looks like in the post-Casey era.
And as it turns out, Chicago Fire did dip in the ratings from the 200th episode with Casey to the 201st episode without Casey. Spoiler TV reports that 6.8 million people tuned in to the first episode without Casey on October 27, with a rating of 0.74 in Live+Same day numbers (a.k.a. the number of people who watched the episode live). To contrast, the 200th episode on October 20 reached an audience of 7.3 million and a rating of 0.81. Based on the early numbers, it looks like fewer people wanted to watch Fire live without Casey.
That said, it’s worth considering that NBC hyped the episode both as Casey’s farewell and the 200th episode, so viewers who had dropped off the show may have tuned back in live for nostalgia’s sake, or just to see what happened with Casey. Plus, Fire’s numbers for the 200th episode improved with Live+3 day and Live+7 day calculations, hitting 1.2 rating and 9.5 million viewers after three days, and 1.3 and nearly 10 million after seven days. Before we pass any judgments about post-Casey Chicago Fire in the ratings, it’s worth waiting on more delayed numbers for Episode 201, as well as future episodes.
How NCIS Fans (Evidently) Feel About Watching Without Gibbs
NCIS also said a big goodbye in its current season, and Gibbs’ move to Alaska takes him a whole lot farther than Fire’s Casey moving to Oregon. Fans had reason to believe that the October 11 episode would be Mark Harmon’s last as a series regular, but there was still an outpouring of emotion after Gibbs revealed his decision not to return home with McGee. NCIS is a ratings juggernaut for scripted TV, so that episode did respectably, but what about the first episode without him?
Well, to judge how well NCIS did (or didn’t do) in its first episode after Gibbs decided to retire, let’s look at his final episode. The October 11 episode that said goodbye to Gibbs hit, according to Spoiler TV, 0.56 in the ratings and 7.6 million audience in Live+Same day. Those numbers got a boost in Live+3, when three days bumped the episode up to 0.9 and 11.1 million.
For the episode on October 18, which was the first to air after Gibbs decided to stay in Alaska, the show earned 0.62 and 7.6 million in Live+Same, so there’s actually a slight rise after losing Gibbs. In Live+3, the October 18 episode rose to 10.5 million and 0.9.
So, the first episode without Gibbs actually won in the ratings in Live+Same, and the audience size remained even between the two. It’s in Live+3 that the last episode with Gibbs pulls ahead in audience size. So the numbers didn’t immediately tank without Gibbs, but it’s certainly worth noting that the Gibbs episode beat the non-Gibbs episode.
The Blacklist Was Back With A New Time Slot, But No Liz
The Blacklist made headlines at the end of Season 8 thanks to the departure of lead actress Megan Boone, and the central character of Liz Keen being killed off to accommodate Boone’s decision to leave. The last couple episodes of Season 8 moved the show from its previous Friday night home to Wednesday nights, and Season 9 brought the NBC show to Thursday night. So, how is The Blacklist doing after two weeks of Season 9?
Well, it was fourth in its time slot with its premiere on Thursday, October 21, with Live+Same numbers of 0.4 and 3.1 million. The second episode, on October 28, was lower, with 0.3 and 2.7 million.
That said, The Blacklist traditionally does well with delayed viewership, and the Live+3 numbers for the premiere grew by half, hitting 0.6 from 0.4 and 4.6 million from 3.1 million. If the second episode follows the same trend, then the 0.3 and 2.7 million could receive healthy boosts. The Blacklist is unlikely to ever win its time slot so long as Station 19 is airing on ABC, but the sky isn’t falling even without Megan Boone as Liz Keen… yet.
The World Series Interrupts Fall TV... Or Does it?
It’s that Major League Baseball time of year again when the two top baseball teams face off for the World Series on Fox. The 2021 World Series pits the Houston Astros against the Atlanta Braves, and as usual, the baseball championship affects even those who don’t care about the sport, as World Series weeks potentially pull viewers from their regular shows. So, let’s look at the first two games of this year’s series, airing on Tuesday, October 26 and Wednesday, October 27.
Game 1 of the 2021 World Series aired on Fox on October 26, knocking out new episodes of The Resident and Our Kind of People, but reaching a big audience with 10.8 million viewers and a 2.52 rating. Interestingly, there weren’t particularly notable changes in the ratings and viewership for the shows that did air new episodes opposite baseball.
The three FBIs all took the night off, and The Voice and New Amsterdam dropped a bit, but La Brea and Supergirl both rose. The Bachelorette’s drops were the most significant, but the latest season premiered on October 19, and it’s to be expected that seasons lose viewers after premiere episodes. While World Series was a win on Tuesday night, that didn’t mean all the other shows lost. The situation might have been different with the three FBIs, however.
As for Game 2, airing on Wednesday put it right in the middle of my personal favorite night for primetime ratings, which also happens to be one of the most competitive nights of primetime. The World Series won again, but not with quite so wide of a margin at 2.24 rating and 10.2 million viewers, and that’s particularly interesting in light of other changes in primetime numbers.
There was no new episode of The Masked Singer to go up against Survivor, but Survivor still dipped during World Series week, and the numbers for the other big shows remained shockingly consistent despite the World Series taking 10 million viewers. Chicago Med and Chicago P.D. remained even in the ratings, and Chicago Fire’s drop may be explained away from going from a milestone 200th episode back to a normal episode.
CSI: Vegas was almost exactly even, steady from week to week with 0.35 and with only a difference of a couple hundred thousand viewers. Legends of Tomorrow was a bit of a surprise, as it dipped from the previous week to its 100th episode, but The CW series wasn’t exactly in top contention to win the 8 p.m. ET time slot with 0.07 and 0.511 million viewers.
The World Series isn’t over, so it’ll continue interfering with primetime as usual for another several days, and it should be interesting to see if the trend of big ratings but small changes remains steady. Check back with CinemaBlend for more TV news, and swing by our fall TV lineup for more of what’s on the way and worth checking out.
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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).