With the crime drama S.W.A.T. having faced dwindling ratings issues with its fourth season on CBS, the network made a calculated move in shifting the Shemar Moore series from its Wednesday-night home to Fridays to fill the void left by MacGyver's untimely cancellation in early 2021. That shift was seemingly just the attention bump that S.W.A.T. needed, too, as it fared quite well as the lead-in for Magnum P.I. and Blue Bloods. But the first weekend of 2022 saw another scheduling change, with its big midseason premiere debuting on Sunday, January 2, marking its new primetime home for the near future. But was it actually a good move?
It doesn’t take a whole lot of intricate looks at the numbers to figure out that, no, moving S.W.A.T. to Sunday nights wasn’t all that great of a decision this early on. So let’s break that down what we know.
How S.W.A.T.’s Season 5 Winter Premiere Fared In Viewership And Ratings
With numbers that aren’t necessarily disastrous in and of themselves, S.W.A.T. pulled in 3.67 million viewers during its 10 p.m. ET time slot, which it should be noted is two hours later than its former slot on Fridays. And as for the key 18-49 demographic rating, SpoilerTV reported the Shemar Moore drama landed a 0.4, with both totals notably lower than the Season 5 average thus far.
So instead of heading up a night of big CBS dramas kicking off the weekend, it’s now at the tapered end, and doesn’t seem to have received a ton of help from its own lead-in shows. The Equalizer Season 2 earned 6.29 million viewers with its midseason return (0.5 demo), which marked a rise above where things left off in 2021. And it was followed by NCIS: Los Angeles, whose winter premiere brought in 5.03 million viewers (0.4 demo), which is a dip from what its fall finale totals were back in November.
How S.W.A.T.’s Sunday Night Numbers Compare To Friday Night Stats
While it’s difficult to gauge a proper reaction from just a single night’s numbers, I think it’s already safe to say CBS swung for a miss in shifting S.W.A.T. away from the Friday night lineup so soon. The drama’s midseason finale on December 10 brought in 5.09 million viewers, with a 0.5 demo rating, which is clearly more than NCIS: Los Angeles earned with Season 13’s return. And it was the second-biggest audience of Season 5 so far, too.
In fact, each of Season 5’s first eight episodes drew bigger audiences than all but two installments from both Seasons 3 and 4, with the big October premiere peaking at 5.85 million, and a 0.7 demo rating. To be fair, the Sunday night numbers are certainly still better on the whole than what S.W.A.T. was getting during the end of its Wednesday night era. Only three Season 4 episodes scored higher numbers than the 3.69 million that watched on Sunday night.
Certainly, S.W.A.T. could double that winter premiere viewership with its January 9 airing on CBS, but these early stats don’t indicate that being the case, at least not with Sunday Night Football still happening for one more week before NFL Playoffs start. Maybe once football is out of the way, more Shemar Moore fanatics will come out of the woodwork. Check out the preview for that upcoming episode below.
At this point, the best thing CBS can say is that S.W.A.T. pulled better numbers than Nathan Fillion’s The Rookie, which returned to ABC to follow up on its own midseason finale cliffhangers. Keep tuning in, though, with new episodes airing on CBS on Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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