TV is now a few weeks into the second half of the 2021-2022 TV season, and some of the shows that turn in the best and most consistent numbers are the ones that are part of a wider TV universe. Each of the big four broadcast networks has some kind of multi-show franchise going. The FBIs over on CBS – comprised of FBI, FBI: Most Wanted, and FBI: International – will soon lose a leading man, so it’s worth looking at how they’re doing before Julian McMahon’s departure, and how the FBI’s compare to the other franchises on television in ratings trends.
To get the most out of the ratings trends for the 2021-2022 TV season so far on average, we’re going to focus on the key 18-49 age demographic in three categories (via Spoiler TV): Live+Same Day (totals for the day of the initial airing), Live+3 (totals after three days) rises, and Live+7 (totals after seven days) rises. Since there are no fewer than six multi-show TV franchises on the big four networks of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC this season, let’s start with the shows at the beginning of the week: the NCIS series.
NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS, And NCIS: Hawai'i
Although NCIS: LA was the last of the three shows to return in the 2021-2022 TV season with its October 10 premiere, it airs the earliest in the week on CBS with its 9 p.m. ET time slot on Sundays. Currently in Season 13, there is some speculation that the end is nigh for the longest-running NCIS spinoff, but it’s going strong in the current Season 13:
- Live+Same: 0.5 rating and 5.4 million viewers
- Live+3: 0.7 rating (40%) and 7 million viewers (29% rise)
- Live+7: 0.8 rating (60%) and 7.4 million viewers (37% rise)
The second show in the franchise to air each week is NCIS, which headed to a new night for Season 19 as the first NCIS season with Mark Harmon’s Gibbs almost entirely absent. The time slot switch didn’t mean that the show went from being one of TV’s biggest hits to a TV flop, however, and it has continued to turn in some impressive numbers.
- Live+Same: 0.6 rating and 7.6 million viewers
- Live+3: 0.9 rating (50% rise) and 10.5 million viewers (39% rise)
- Live+7: 1.0 rating (67% rise) and 11.3 million viewers (49% rise)
The third NCIS show is also the newest: NCIS: Hawai’i debuted with its 10 p.m. ET time slot on Mondays, immediately following NCIS after both shows premiered back on September 20. It didn’t take long for CBS to order more of the Aloha State-set spinoff, and it too is going strong this season.
- Live+Same: 0.5 rating and 5.3 million viewers
- Live+3: 0.7 rating (40% rise) and 7.5 million viewers (41% rise)
- Live+7: 0.7 rating (40% rise) and 8.1 million viewers (52% rise)
So, what do these numbers tell us? Well, all three shows are still crushing when it comes to audience size, and NCIS can rival any other show on television when it comes to viewership in all three categories. LA and Hawai’i are pretty even in Live+Same, but Hawai’i pulls ahead in viewership starting with Live+3, and LA pulls ahead in ratings starting with Live+7. NCIS remains the clear winner, while the two spinoffs are more or less equal with each other. All three are certainly hits.
9-1-1 And 9-1-1: Lone Star
9-1-1 returned to Fox on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET for Season 5 back on September 20 and ultimately rose to become TV’s biggest ratings hit of fall 2021. Fox’s emergency responder drama was a hit in Live+Same, got a big boost in Live+3, and continued to grow for Live+7. The show hasn’t returned for the second half of the fifth season just yet, but after the fall season, 9-1-1 is averaging some impressive numbers:
- Live+Same: 0.8 rating and 5.2 million viewers
- Live+3: 1.3 rating (63% rise) and 7.6 million viewers (46% rise)
- Live+7: 1.4 rating (75% rise) and 8.3 million (59% rise)
9-1-1: Lone Star didn’t return to Fox with Season 3 until January 3 to take over the 8 p.m. ET time slot on Mondays until 9-1-1 returns in March, but the switch from the parent series to the spinoff didn’t result in a drastic drop in the ratings or viewership. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the spinoff join 9-1-1 toward the top of the list of top shows by the end of the season. Although not many episodes have aired at this point in the new year, the early numbers prove that Lone Star is a major hit for the network:
- Live+Same: 0.8 rating and 5.5 million viewers
- Live+3: 1.1 rating (38% rise) and 7.4 million viewers (36% rise)
- Live+7: 1.2 rating (50% rise) and 8.1 million viewers (47% rise)
Interestingly, 9-1-1: Lone Star is averaging higher numbers for the total viewers who tuned in live on the night of new episodes, but is easily outdone by 9-1-1 in Live+3 and Live+7. These averages suggest that there is a lot of fan overlap between the shows, particularly since they have each held the same 8 p.m. time slot, but they also indicate a larger audience for 9-1-1 overall. The game-changer could be when 9-1-1 joins 9-1-1: Lone Star in the lineup again come March, with the parent series on Mondays at 8 p.m. and Lone Star following at 9 p.m.
FBI, FBI: International, And FBI: Most Wanted
FBI brought the Dick Wolf magic touch to CBS back in 2018 and keeps on going strong in Season 4 at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesdays, anchoring a full night of stories set in the same TV universe. The show has already killed off a character, and based on some comments from actor Jeremy Sisto, that may actually mean that the action can get more intense. Plenty of people will be watching if that’s the case and trends continue!
- Live+Same: 0.7 rating and 7.3 million viewers
- Live+3: 0.9 rating (29% rise) and 9.5 million viewers (30% rise)
- Live+7: 1.0 rating (43% rise) and 10.2 million viewers (39%)
The 9 p.m. installment in the FBI franchise is FBI: International, which debuted in the fall with Chicago Fire showrunner Derek Haas at the helm. The International Fly Team has found plenty of crime to fight overseas, complete with some personal drama for the characters (and a recent breakup for two of them). And it too is doing well on Tuesday nights:
- Live+Same: 0.5 rating and 5.9 million viewers
- Live+3: 0.7 rating (40% rise) and 7.6 million viewers (30% rise)
- Live+7: 0.8 rating (60% rise) and 8.2 million viewers (40% rise)
The 10 p.m. installment is the show that will soon go through arguably the biggest change in its history (including the big Season 2 finale cliffhanger): FBI: Most Wanted. Leading man Julian McMahon will depart the series in March, with Law & Order: Organized Crime’s Dylan McDermott coming on board to replace him. That’ll be a big change for audiences to deal with (or not deal with), but the numbers are solid while he’s still on board:
- Live+Same: 0.5 rating and 5.7 million viewers
- Live+3: 0.8 rating (60% rise) and 8 million viewers (41% rise)
- Live+7: 0.9 rating (80% rise) and 8.8 million viewers (54%)
FBI is the clear winner across all categories, starting from Live+Same and extending through to Live+7. International and Most Wanted are about equal in Live+Same, but Most Wanted pulls ahead in Live+3 and Live+7, nearly equaling FBI in the ratings by the time seven days have passed. Most Wanted is squarely in second behind FBI; will that remain the same without Julian McMahon?
Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, And Chicago P.D.
One Chicago Wednesdays continue to be big and consistent winners for NBC by creating one full night of Windy City action, to the point that the network may be trying to recreate that success with a full night of Law & Order shows on Thursdays by the end of February. Chicago Med kicks off Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET, and gets NBC off to a strong start:
- Live+Same: 0.7 rating and 6.7 million viewers
- Live+3: 1.1 rating (57% rise) and 8.7 million viewers (28% rise)
- Live+7: 1.2 rating (71% rise) and 9.18 million viewers (36% rise)
The night continues with Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. ET, and Fire remains the dominant force in most categories on Wednesday nights despite some big changes in the tenth season, with one series regular leaving early on and another absent for most of the first half of the season.
- Live+Same: 0.8 rating rating and 7 million viewers
- Live+3: 1.2 rating (50% rise) and 9.3 million viewers (32% rise)
- Live+7: 1.3 rating (63% rise) and 9.9 million viewers (41%)
And this brings us to Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. ET, currently in Season 9. P.D. has also gone through some big changes, although primarily behind the scenes with previous showrunner Rick Eid handing the top job off to executive producer and new showrunner Gwen Sigan. Despite airing in the late hour of 10 p.m. that usually hosts shows with lower numbers, P.D. is an exception to that rule:
- Live+Same: 0.7 rating and 5.8 million viewers
- Live+3: 1.2 rating (71% rise) and 8.5 million viewers (46% rise)
- Live+7: 1.3 rating (86% rise) and 9.28 million viewers (59%)
The One Chicago averages are what make Wednesdays my favorite night of ratings to break down, primarily because of Med vs. P.D. The two shows average to be equal in the Live+Same ratings, but Med has an edge of nearly a full million in audience size. Delayed viewing is where things get interesting, with P.D. pulling ahead with a whopping 71% rise to match Fire in Live+3 ratings and continuing that trend in Live+7 for a total rise of 86% over Live+Same. By the end of a week, P.D. – least-watched and tied for lowest-rated in Live+Same – ties Fire in the ratings and rises nearly 60% in audience size.
Law & Order: SVU And Law & Order: Organized Crime
Law & Order: SVU has the honor of being the longest-running show in a shared TV universe with 23 seasons and counting, and that includes even the original Law & Order when it returns in late February. And in a sign that a long run doesn’t have to mean low ratings in any way, SVU is holding its own on Thursdays for NBC at 9 p.m. ET:
- Live+Same: 0.7 rating and 4.3 million viewers
- Live+3: 1.1 rating (57% rise) and 6.1 million viewers (43% rise)
- Live+7: 1.2 rating (71% rise) and 6.6 million viewers (53% rise)
Law & Order: Organized Crime is one of the newest shows on this list, but stars a character with a long history, with Christopher Meloni reprising his SVU character of Elliot Stabler. With its 10 p.m. time slot, its numbers aren’t quite as impressive as SVU’s, but that doesn’t make them bad:
- Live+Same: 0.6 rating and 3.5 million viewers
- Live+3: 0.9 rating (50% rise) and 5.2 million viewers (49% rise)
- Live+7: 1.0 rating (67% rise) and 5.6 million viewers (62% rise)
Although SVU starts on top in Live+Same and stays on top through Live+7, it is worth noting that OC experienced a larger percentage boost in viewership across the board, which fits with the trend of 10 p.m. shows doing well with delayed viewing, even if it’s not quite on par with Chicago P.D. the night before.
Grey's Anatomy And Station 19
Who says you need to be a TV show sharing a similar name with sister series to make a hit franchise? ABC's Grey’s Anatomy stands as the third longest-running show on this list in Season 18, only just behind NCIS and well behind SVU. Like NCIS and SVU, a long run hasn’t meant a tragic dip in ratings. (Which is good, because Grey’s Anatomy has plenty of other tragedies.) Here’s how Grey’s is faring on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET:
- Live+Same: 0.6 rating and 4.2 million viewers
- Live+3: 1.1 rating (83% rise) and 6.1 million viewers (46% rise)
- Live+7: 1.3 rating (117% rise) and 6.6 million viewers (59%)
Station 19 is another show that didn’t wait too long to kill off a key character, and the big death didn’t result in a big ratings drop. The fifth season of the spinoff more or less holds its own with the long-running parent series, which is an impressive feat at 8 p.m. on Thursays:
- Live+Same: 0.6 rating and 4.5 million viewers
- Live+3: 0.9 rating (50% rise) and 5.9 million viewers (30% rise)
- Live+7: 1.0 rating (67% rise) and 6.2 million viewers (38% rise)
As we’ve seen with some other shared universe shows, the two sister series are very close in Live+Same, with Station 19 even pulling ahead in Live+Same audience size. That’s the end of its wins over Grey’s, however, as the original pulls ahead not only in total numbers, but percentage rises. Congrats to Grey’s Anatomy!
Of course, there are always variables when it comes to TV ratings, as we may well see in the numbers for the FBIs after Julian McMahon’s departure. It’s also worth considering that eight of these shows technically share a universe with each other, although quite tangentially and only due to a single episode of crossover back in 2020. Still, the connection is there, and it’s worth checking back in on the ratings for these shows as the 2021-2022 TV season continues. For some more of what you can watch now and moving forward, swing by our 2022 TV schedule.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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