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TV Ratings Survival Guide: How the New Shows Are Doing

This Is Us is the clear new hit, and we have the numbers to back it up

Tim Surette

How's your favorite new show doing? Is that love triangle firmly planted for big drama? Has the hero's mentor died tragically yet? Did Kevin James have another misunderstanding with his wife about what retired life is all about?

Regardless of what's actually happening on the show, there's much more drama behind the scenes. Now that we're over a month into the season, it's time to *gulp* look at the numbers and see how shows are really doing.

Below, I've compiled the overnight episodic ratings for each show in handy-dandy list form so you can see how each series is stacking up and how far the ratings have dropped since the excitement of the premieres washed away. I've also categorized them in tiers by success so you can get an easy idea of which shows are making the networks proud and which will soon be fuel for the dumpster fire.

Fall TV Popularity Contest: Vote for your favorite new shows now!

So go on and crunch the numbers yourselves or take a gander at my analysis, and see if you can predict which shows will be sticking around and which will be gone by Thanksgiving.

**As a reminder, any predictions are based on the show's ratings, not the actual quality of the show.**

Ratings (viewers/rating in the 18-49 demo). All data collected from TV By the Numbers. Ratings data is up to date through Oct. 31.

Mandy Moore, Mackenzie Hancsicsak, Milo Ventimiglia, Parker Bates, and Lonnie Chavis, This Is Us​

Mandy Moore, Mackenzie Hancsicsak, Milo Ventimiglia, Parker Bates, and Lonnie Chavis, This Is Us

NBC, Ron Batzdorff/NBC


This Is Us (NBC, Tuesdays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 20): 10.07 million/2.8 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 27): 8.75 million/2.6 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 11): 9.87 million/2.8 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 18): 9.71 million/2.6 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 25): 8.68 million/2.4 rating

Speechless (ABC, Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 21): 7.38 million/2.0 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 28): 6.43 million/1.8 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 5): 6.03 million/1.8 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 12): 6.03 million/1.8 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 26): 5.85 million/1.7 rating

Lethal Weapon (Fox, Wednesdays at 8/7c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 21): 7.93 million/2.2 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 28): 7.23 million/2.0 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 5): 6.62 million/1.7 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 12): 6.84 million/1.9 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 19): 6.66 million/1.7 rating

Bull (CBS, Tuesdays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 20): 15.56 million/2.2 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 27): 13.61 million/1.9 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 11): 13.00 million/1.6 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 18): 12.29 million/1.6 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 25): 11.61 million/1.5 rating

What the numbers mean: Congratulations, NBC! You are the winner of the "Oh please, oh please, let at least one show be a hit" sweepstakes. Thanks to a great performance by This Is Us (as well as pretty, pretty, pretty good work from The Good Place and Timeless), NBC looks like the clear winner for new fall shows. This is the second season in a row that NBC nabbed the season's biggest new hit, following Blindspot's successful first season last year. Need more proof that This Is Us is kicking booty? Take a look at how little erosion This Is Us has suffered; by this time last year, Blindspot had lost a full ratings point off its premiere episode, and even that was considered not that bad. This Is Us? Only 0.4, an insane figure in this day and age -- though Empire's first-season rise remains the gold standard in recent years.

But wait, it gets better. When you add on DVR performances, This Is Us (a total 4.7 rating in its most recent Live+7 stats) hovers around the top 3 shows of the season, sitting next to heavy hitters The Big Bang Theory (5.3 L+7) and Empire (5.0 L+7). NBC already ordered a full season of This Is Us, and a second season isn't far off, either. Count on it.

Speechless is one of the biggest surprises of the season. Of course, sandwiched in ABC's successful Wednesday comedy block and leading into Modern Family is a great way to get on TV screens. Another ABC comedy, American Housewife, is putting up similar numbers and could earn a spot in "The Hits" category, although its comparative lower number of episodes aired means its sample size is a little too small to say for sure yet.

Rounding this category out are Lethal Weapon and Bull, giving each of the major networks a hit by today's standards. I like Bull's prospects for a long run more than I like Lethal Weapon's, as Bull wears the sash that reads "most-watched new show!" thanks to the CBS effect (i.e. being the most-watched network of the Big 4.) But both are doing OK with DVR viewing, adding about 50% to their ratings when seven days of viewing are taken into consideration. However, Lethal Weapon will have to deal with a two-week break because of the World Series, which could throw viewers off.


Erinn Hayes, Kevin James; Kevin Can Wait

Dave Giesbrecht/CBS


Timeless (NBC, Mondays at 10/9c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 3): 7.60 million/1.8 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 10): 6.20 million/1.4 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 17): 5.86 million/1.5 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 24): 5.47 million/1.3 rating

Designated Survivor (ABC, Wednesdays at 10/9c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 21): 10.04 million/2.2 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 28): 7.97 million/1.8 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 5): 7.05 million/1.6 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 12): 7.00 million/1.6 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 26): 5.96 million/1.2 rating

American Housewife (ABC, Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 11): 6.61 million/1.9 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 18): 5.75 million/1.7 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 25): 5.20 million/1.6 rating

Kevin Can Wait (CBS, Mondays at 8/7c -- moved from Mondays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 19): 11.08 million/2.6 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 26): 10.62 million/2.7 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 3): 9.60 million/2.2 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 10): 8.70 million/2.1 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 17): 8.54 million/2.1 rating
Episode 6 (Oct. 24): 7.91 million/1.7 rating
Episode 7 (Oct. 31): 6.76 million/1.4 rating

The Good Place (NBC, Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episodes 1 & 2 (back-to-back episodes): 8.04 million/2.3 rating
Episode 3: 5.25 million/1.4 rating
Episode 4: 4.45 million/1.3 rating
Episode 5: 4.97 million/1.4 rating
Episode 6: 4.23 million/1.2 rating
Episode 7: 3.79 million/1.0 rating
Episode 8: 3.89 million/1.2 rating

What the numbers mean: Timeless may seem like it's doing well, but when you consider that it's in NBC's prime hit-making slot -- Mondays behind The Voice, where The Blacklist and Blindspot were catapulted to further seasons -- its numbers aren't that great even though it's winning its time slot. Expect something along the lines of Timeless creator Eric Kripke's last show Revolution, which leveraged decent early ratings in 2012 into a second season before moving to a new night in Season 2 and seeing its numbers drop.

You look at Designated Survivor and you think, "Hey that's great -- WHOA, what happened in Week 5?" ABC should be familiar with this trend, as it's exactly what happened with Quantico last year. Still, Quantico was considered ABC's big hit last season, and ABC has already ordered a full season of Designated Survivor. Why? Because the show's DVR numbers are insane, with Live+7 numbers more than doubling the overnight ratings (+119%, in fact) in the most recent roundup (for Episode 4). That Week 5 1.2 rating may be an anomaly, too, as it happened during a break for presidential debates and could easily bounce back up this week.

Again, the sample size for American Housewife is small, but get a load of this: It's performing better than the other veterans -- The Middle, Fresh off the Boat, and The Real O'Neals -- in ABC's Tuesday comedy block. That's a great indicator that viewers are specifically tuning in for that show, and a full-season order shouldn't be far off.

Yes, Kevin could wait to be moved away from ratings jackpot The Big Bang Theory. Since BBT moved away from being Kevin Can Wait's lead-in in mid-October, total viewers and ratings have slumped. They'll only get worse, and Joey Tribbiani isn't going to help him out. Remember, these are CBS-inflated numbers, and if Kevin sinks further, he may have to go back to being just a huge film star.

What I like about The Good Place is that its ratings seem to have already found its floor, which puts it in a, erm, good place. Sure, it's wobbled between a 1.4 and 1.0 rating since its post-Voice bloated special premiere, but the recent bump to a 1.2 looks great to NBC as a dependable audience. This will only be a 13-episode season, but it's done well enough -- especially when compared to other NBC comedies of late -- to warrant serious consideration for a second season.

Kylie Bunbury, Pitch

Kylie Bunbury, Pitch



MacGyver (CBS, Fridays at 8/7c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 23): 10.90 million/1.7 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 30): 9.07 million/1.3 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 7): 8.09 million/1.1 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 14): 7.44 million/1.1 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 21): 7.95 million/1.1 rating
Episode 6 (Oct. 28): 7.27 million/0.9 rating

The Great Indoors (CBS, Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 27): 8.81 million/1.9 rating

Man With a Plan(CBS, Mondays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 24): 7.42 million/1.6 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 31): 6.67 million/1.5 rating

Pitch (Fox, Thursdays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 22): 4.23 million/1.1 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 29): 3.68 million/1.0 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 6): 3.50 million/1.0 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 13): 2.91 million/0.8 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 27): 2.91 million/0.8 rating

Son of Zorn (Fox, Sundays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 11): 6.13 million/2.4 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 25): 2.65 million/1.1 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 2): 3.64 million/1.6 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 16): 3.78 million/1.5 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 23): 2.27 million/1.0 rating

What the numbers mean: MacGyver is doing fine on Fridays, just a tick under its lead-out Hawaii Five-O and even further below Blue Bloods. But the push to bring in a young audience isn't working after a good start, and its DVR gains are minimal. CBS will have a decision to make on this one, and if the numbers continue to go down, it will be an easy one.

The Great Indoors numbers look good -- and although that too has a small sample size -- consider what CBS' numbers were half an hour earlier. The Big Bang Theory drew 14.31 million viewers and a 3.4 rating, and then the numbers for The Great Indoors fell off a cliff (8.81 million, 1.9 rating). Man With a Plan got off to a decent start without Big Bang to boost it, but the good news is that there was very little drop off in Week 2. It's too early to tell what the fate of these shows are, but CBS has had trouble with new comedy in recent years and this doesn't look much better.

For Fox, it's more big swings and big misses as it continues to rebuild itself. Pitch is finishing fourth in its time slot and not doing much better than The CW's Supernatural, so expect it to be relieved pretty soon. Best-case scenario is it finishes out its initial run and completes its story. Son of Zorn -- which had a football boost for its premiere -- took its worst beating in its most recent episode, and Fox would like to see something do better between The Simpsons and Family Guy. Do I need to be the person to tell Fox that it's time to break up its long-running Sunday animation block? Both of these will likely be canceled at some point.


Daniel Sunjata, Piper Perabo; Notorious

Eli Joshua Ade/ABC


Conviction (ABC, Mondays at 10/9c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 3): 5.17 million/0.9 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 10): 4.23 million/0.8 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 17): 4.24 million/0.7 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 24): 4.74 million/0.8 rating

Notorious (ABC, Thursdays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 22): 5.39 million/1.1 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 29): 4.51 million/1.1 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 6): 4.20 million/0.9 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 13): 3.90 million/0.8 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 20): 3.89 million/0.9 rating
Episode 6 (Oct. 27): 3.75 million/0.8 rating

No Tomorrow (The CW, Tuesdays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 4): 1.51 million/0.5 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 11): 0.74 million/0.2 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 18): 0.81 million/0.3 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 25): 0.78 million/0.3 rating

Frequency (The CW, Wednesdays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 5): 1.35 million/0.4 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 12): 1.08 million/0.3 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 19): 1.04 million/0.3 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 26): 0.99 million/0.3 rating

The Exorcist (Fox, Fridays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 23): 2.85 million/1.0 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 30): 1.98 million/0.6 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 7): 1.95 million/0.7 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 14): 1.97 million/0.7 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 21): 1.87 million/0.7 rating

Pure Genius (CBS, Thursdays at 10/9c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 28): 6.23 million/1.0 rating

What the numbers mean: ABC's normally reliable formula of female-centric sexy escapades was a double disaster, with the numbers for both Notorious and Conviction screaming "Cancel me!" Conviction's lead-in Dancing with the Stars ain't pulling the numbers it used to, which hurts Conviction. But Notorious is especially troubling as it's slotted between two Shonda specials in Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder. Viewers are actively picking up their remotes to avoid Notorious once Grey's is over, and ABC can't get rid of this show soon enough. It's part way there. The network trimmed the episode count for Season 1 and it's essentially the first cancellation of the season. Conviction won't be far behind.

If you're new to ratings and numbers, you're probably wondering what in Mystic Falls is going on with The CW. Well, The CW -- as the underappreciated "fifth" network -- works on its own, significantly lower scale. It just doesn't pull the same viewers that the Big 4 do. Now that THAT's out of the way, these numbers are still baaaaad. By comparison, The Flash -- the network's top show -- just hit a series low with a 1.0 rating and 2.8 million viewers. You'll say that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend worked numbers similar to both of these shows into a second season, I'll say that Crazy Ex has much more support from critics and had its name called during awards season, giving The CW a reason to keep it around. Without that kind of support, neither new CW show is going to see a second season, and maybe not even a full first season.

Fox's Exorcist reboot never caught on, and pairing it with Hell's Kitchen didn't make a lot of sense. It'll be sent to Hell soon. CBS' Pure Genius scored one of the worst debuts for a CBS drama ever. It doesn't take a genius, pure or not, to know this one's D.O.A.

What do you make of these numbers? Can you predict which show will be the first canceled and which will be the first to get a second season?