Ranking the viewership of new fall broadcast series sounds easy — but like everything else about TV, it’s more complicated than it looks. Consider this ranking an educated snapshot.
IndieWire elected to rank freshman series by the overall-viewer averages of their series premieres. These Nielsen numbers include any viewer (age 2 or older) and counts one week of delayed viewing. We’ve included ratings in the key adults 18-49 demographics but elected to rank shows by total viewers. This lets us avoid tied rankings and provides more-digestible numbers, but it disproportionately rewards older-skewing shows (i.e., CBS). In general, CBS was the uncontested king of the rankings, with three of its series topping the list, all of which were given full-season pickups on Wednesday.
Nielsen does not measure streaming platforms in real time, and their delays are too substantial to make this story. Also not included are other non-linear VOD viewing.
Finally, we’ve focused on the Big 4 broadcast networks: CBS, NBC, Fox, and ABC. The new series are ranked from least- to most-watched; this post will be updated as more series debut.
“The Real Love Boat” on CBS.
“The Real Love Boat”
Date: October 5, 2022
Total viewers: 2.922 million
18-49 rating: 0.3
No love here. Of all the networks this season, CBS has (by far) the most new series to premiere thus far and the ones with the most success in getting eyeballs. That makes the sinking-ship viewership for the first episode of “The Real Love Boat” all the more alarming for the nautical reality show’s long-term prospects. Head to your Muster station.
Based loosely on the ’70s anthology series about passengers on a crew ship finding love, the series sees hosts and real-life couple Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell guide new couples through relationship-building exercises. But for whatever reason — the 35-year-old IP lacks the pull to rein in viewers? Those who fondly remember the old show have little interest in a reality competition? — the show has failed to find an initial audience, and has since taken a lifeboat to Paramount+.
Date: September 11, 2022
Total viewers: 3.169 million
18-49 rating: 1.0
“Monarch” isn’t exactly king, but this is a pretty good performance for Fox. The “Empire”-but-with-country-music series can thank its generous NFL football lead-in for a large portion of its “live” viewership. (And definitely for that demo number.) It’s also worth noting that its 1.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic outpaces any other network premiere this season. “Monarch” is Fox’s only new series of the season to have debuted so far, so it’s queen (of Fox) for the day.
NBC’s new George Lopez sitcom “Lopez vs Lopez”
“Lopez vs Lopez”
Date: November 4, 2022
Total viewers: 3.318 million
18-49 rating: 0.4
The fourth sitcom starring comedian George Lopez with his name in the title, “Lopez vs Lopez” has predecessors in success (“George Lopez,” which aired for six seasons on ABC and later became a fixture of the Nick at Nite programming block in syndication), and in failure (“Saint George,” which was canceled after 10 episodes, and “Lopez,” which managed two seasons). This new show, which sees Lopez act with his real-life daughter Mayan as a working-class father-daughter pair, got off to a mostly uninspiring start, especially among young adults. Give it some time, this isn’t exactly the golden age for sitcoms.
Niecy Nash-Betts stars on ABC’s “The Rookie” spinoff “The Rookie: Feds.”
“The Rookie: Feds”
Date: September 27, 2022
Total viewers: 4.305 million
18-49 rating: 0.6
ABC’s “The Rookie,” an L.A.-based procedural starring Nathan Fillion, has been a relatively consistent performer for the network in its Sunday-night time slot, averaging around 6 million viewers in Season 4. Spinoff “Feds,” which retools the “oldest rookie” premise (Niecy Nash-Betts, training at FBI Academy), started with a more muted reception. Hopefully, the early two-episode crossover between the two series can put more eyes on this rookie.
Reggie Watts competes on ABC’s “Celebrity Jeopardy!”
Date: September 25, 2022
Total viewers: 4.342 million
18-49 rating: 0.5
Is “Celebrity Jeopardy!” a new show? That’s in the eye of the beholder. Plain old “Jeopardy!” dates back to the ’60s, and though it’s had a whole bunch of spinoffs, the only prior “Celebrity Jeopardy!” is the spoof you know from “Saturday Night Live.” Mayim Bialik hosts ABC’s very real “Celebrity Jeopardy!” ABC has had success with “Celebrity” versions of other game shows like “Family Feud” and “Wheel of Fortune.” It’s probably just a matter of time until “Celebrity The Chase.”
Raymond Lee on “Quantum Leap”
Date: September 19, 2022
Total viewers: 5.518 million
18-49 rating: 0.7
One of the most high-profile premieres this season is NBC’s “Quantum Leap,” a continuation of the beloved 1989 sci-fi procedural with Raymond Lee stepping into the shoes of Scott Bakula as a scientist journeying through time. This “Leap” has a few things going for it: It debuted out of “The Voice” Season 22 premiere, it’s well-known IP, and NBC promoted it like hell. Even so, it’s in the middle of the ratings pack, but as one of NBC’s two scripted premieres, that hardly matters. The series has seen its initial order of 12 episodes extended to 18, boding well for a renewal.
Hilary Swank stars on new ABC drama “Alaska Daily.”
Date: October 9, 2022
Total viewers: 6.272 million
18-49 rating: 0.5
“Alaska Daily” was one of the more buzzy network premieres of the season thanks primarily to its lead, two-time Oscar winner Hillary Swank. She headed to broadcast for the first time since “Beverly Hills, 90210” to play a tough journalist investigating missing and murdered indigenous peoples cases around Anchorage, Alaska. That buzz translated into solid consumption of the first episode, although it ultimately landed a hair away from the Top 3.
Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Astin on CBS’ “So Help Me Todd.”
“So Help Me Todd”
Date: September 29, 2022
Total viewers: 6.604 million
18-49 rating: 0.5
This legal dramedy with an extremely cheesy pun of a title features Skylar Astin and Marcia Gay Harden as a P.I. son and his lawyer mother whose lines of work cause them to cross paths. At 6.6 million viewers, the series got off to a good start even if two other CBS premieres overshadowed it. But with the show picked up for a full season order, third place doesn’t seem so awful.
Jimmy Smits as Chief John Suarez and Amanda Warren as Regina Haywood on CBS’ “East New York.”
“East New York”
Date: October 2, 2022
Total viewers: 7.168 million
18-49 rating: 0.7
Never doubt a CBS procedural’s ability to find an audience. The network with the “CSI” and “NCIS” franchises, “The Good Wife,” and “Elementary,” among others, always has room for one more. “East New York” tries to complicate that a bit by addressing modern debates about policing, but it doesn’t seem to bother the core CBS audience — a real bunch of blue bloods (get it? “Blue Bloods”), judging by its strong premiere viewership and its full season order from the network.
Kevin Alejandro as Manny Perez in CBS’ “Fire Country.”
Date: October 7, 2022
Total viewers: 8.257 million
18-49 rating: 0.6
Jerry Bruckheimer knows how to build a hit (see: the “CSI” franchise, “Without a Trace,” “Cold Case,” “The Amazing Race”). His latest CBS project, about a convict who joins a prison firefighting program to battle the wildfires of Northern California, seems poised to join that lineup with the most-watched first episode of any network premiere this year and a full season order from the channel. Bruckheimer knows what his audience wants, which in this case is fire.
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