Most of the month of February packed primetime with either reruns or Olympic action, but the 2022 Olympic Games officially came to an end on February 20, and that meant the returns of most of broadcast TV’s biggest franchises. The NCIS franchise (currently comprised of the original plus NCIS: LA and NCIS: Hawai’i) didn’t return, but plenty of others did, including the no fewer than nine Wolf Entertainment shows split into three groups across two networks, as well as ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19. So, with so many shows back, it’s worth taking a look at the numbers to see which shared universe won the first week back.
Now, with the Wolf Entertainment universe’s nine shows split up into three pretty distinct groups with the Law & Orders, One Chicago, and the FBIs on three different nights, it’s worth comparing those groups separately to Grey’s and Station 19. 9-1-1 and Lone Star don’t make the list just yet since 9-1-1 won’t join its spinoff in primetime until March. There’s still plenty to go on with the four that aired new episodes this past week, so let’s get started (in alphabetical order) with Live+Same day numbers of people who tuned in!
The three FBI shows take over CBS primetime on Tuesday nights (via Spoiler TV), and all three aired new episodes on February 21. FBI, FBI: Most Wanted, and FBI: International ranked in the usual order in Live+Same, but that doesn’t mean that the lowest-rated and least-viewed of them is a flop. All three are certainly hits, and CBS is sitting pretty with them for this week:
- FBI: 0.61 rating and 7.3 million
- FBI: International: 0.5 rating and 6.1 million
- FBI: Most Wanted: 0.5 rating and 5.7 million
CBS delivered some impressive (although not quite consistent between them) totals for all three of the FBIs with their return early in the week. To see how they stand up to the offerings from another network, let's head over to ABC!
Grey's Anatomy and Station 19
Aside from my continued frustration that these two shows don’t have a name for their shared universe – would One Seattle a la One Chicago be so hard? – the two shows did well on February 24, based on the Thursday totals from Spoiler TV. They returned with a big crossover event that delivered a reveal about Vic (who has had a rough enough season already) and set up the departure of a Grey’s series regular, and here’s how they did:
- Station 19: 0.7 rating and 4.7 million
- Grey’s Anatomy: 0.7 and 4.4 million
ABC was the network with the fewest number of shows sharing a universe in primetime for the week of February 20, and didn't do badly at all with Grey's and Station 19. That said, let's turn to NBC for what could be TV's newest juggernaut trio!
The Law & Orders
February 24 was bound to be a big night for the Law & Order shows, with the long-awaited return of the original and the continued popularity of SVU and Organized Crime, and the trio of shows didn’t fail to deliver for NBC in Live+Same. These numbers may drop and rankings may shift in the weeks following the L&O premiere, but here’s how they stand as of the first week:
- Law & Order: 0.7 rating and 5.5 million
- Law & Order: SVU: 0.7 rating and 5 million viewers
- Law & Order: OC: 0.5 rating and 3.4 million
The return of Law & Order for Season 21 many years after the end of Season 20 got a warm welcome from plenty of NBC viewers, although that didn't 100% carry over to the spinoffs, with a notable dip by Organized Crime. But we're not out of shared universe ratings data for the week, so let's stick with NBC and shift back to Wednesday for One Chicago!
Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. returned on February 23 for my favorite night of TV numbers to dig into. These (courtesy of Wednesday’s Spoiler TV totals) are arguably the three most closely connected shows on TV in the 2021-2022 TV season, and are consistently very close to each other in the ratings. (They get even more interesting with Live+3 always giving P.D. an almost shockingly impressive boost, but we’re sticking with Live+Same this week.) Here’s how they compared on February 23:
- Chicago Med: 0.8 rating and 7.1 million viewers
- Chicago Fire: 0.7 rating and 6.8 million viewers
- Chicago P.D.: 0.7 rating and 6 million viewers
As always, the Chicago shows stuck pretty close to each other in the ratings, with the expected Live+Same drop from Med to P.D. So, how do the totals for all four of these TV groups actually compare to each other?
This was a particularly interesting week, with the shows returning from the Olympics break, Law & Order premiering the revival to some impressive numbers, and no NCIS shows in the mix to potentially shift the totals. So, accounting for the variables, let’s look at the winner and loser of the week in the Live+Same day ratings:
- Winner: Chicago Med/NBC with 0.8
- Loser(s): FBI: International/CBS, FBI: Most Wanted/CBS, and Law & Order: Organized Crime tied with 0.5
Of course, with these shows, even the “losers” can still deliver some of the biggest numbers in primetime, and the numbers generally rise significantly with delayed viewing. Still, it’s always worth checking the totals for people who prioritize which shows to watch live on a night. Interestingly, the audience size tells a slightly different story than the ratings:
- Winner: FBI/CBS with 7.3 million
- Loser: Law & Order: Organized Crime with 3.4 million
Law & Order: OC is the only show with a bottom spot in both ratings and viewership, so it’s arguably safe to say that it had the most disappointing franchise numbers of the week, even if those numbers were still impressive for an extremely dark 10 p.m. ET TV show. To contrast, Chicago Med and FBI both air in the 8 p.m. ET hour, when shows generally have a larger audience tuning in live.
And to narrow it down a little bit further, One Chicago arguably wins over the FBIs, even though FBI had the largest viewership total in Live+Same. There was only 0.1 rating difference between Chicago Med and both Fire and P.D., and the number of viewers is closer between the three Chicago shows than the three FBI shows.
A big question now is what the ratings game will look like with the returns of NCIS: Los Angeles on February 27 and NCIS and NCIS: Hawai’i on February 28. All three are extremely successful shows for CBS, and NCIS and Hawai’i are in fact building up to a crossover.The network won’t have both of its powerhouse franchises in this next week, however, as all three FBI shows are going on a brief break until March 8, at which point Most Wanted will deliver a game-changing episode with a farewell to Jess LaCroix.
Plus, it’s possible that NBC will see a dip in its Law & Order numbers with the new episodes on March 3, if the hype from the original series’ return dies down. The Grey’s Anatomy/Station 19 numbers could dip as well, considering the eventful crossover on February 24 was technically the 2022 premiere for both shows. The One Chicago shows are the ones that are mostly already back to business as usual, for better or worse for characters like Tracy Spiridakos’ Hailey Upton.
As for what all of this means for the ratings as the 2021-2022 TV season continues… well, only time will tell. Check out some upcoming viewing options with our 2022 TV schedule, and check back with CinemaBlend for more coverage of television’s biggest shared universes!
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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