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Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

Premiere Week may get all the attention, but it’s the second week of the broadcast networks’ fall season that can often tell you more about a series’ fate.

And following strong premieres, dramas generally held up better than comedies in week two. CBS’ Vegas and Elementary both dipped 16%, within the expected week-two drop-off for a new show, though the former continues to be stronger in total viewers than in the 18-49 demo.

ABC’s Last Resort was down a similar 18%, though its drop to a 1.8 rating casts doubt on its sustainability. Supernatural drama 666 Park Avenue opened to a 2.2 rating, equal to Last Resort’s opening number but more of a disappointing start given the former’s strong lead-in. That would be Revenge, which performed well in its ascension to the Sunday anchor spot where it matched Desperate Housewives’ year-ago rating, as did Once Upon a Time, which returned just 5% down from its series premiere.

Revolution is also holding on well, fading just 6% week-to-week to a 3.2 to earn—along with NBC comedies Go On and The New Normal— fall’s first full-season pickups.

The drama numbers begin to look even better when you factor in DVR viewing, which many network executives have noted seems to be up significantly this season. One exec noted that while last year big shows would add about 3 million viewers in DVR playback ratings, he expects the number to be closer to 5 million this year.

Revolution, which airs Monday at 10 p.m., gained the most of any new show, improving its premiere week rating 53% when live-plus-threeday viewing is factored in, which was a likely factor in the show’s early pick-up. The 10 p.m. hour overall was affected the most, with shows such as Private Practice, Hawaii Five-0 and Parenthood getting adjusted up to much healthier time-shifted numbers, as were other returning series, making overnight declines that are eventually recovered with DVR playback the new normal.

“I would like to not see that—I’d like to hold tight from year to year. But I think we’re all getting used to this new reality,” said another network executive.

Of course, if a show doesn’t open at all (like Fox’s The Mob Doctor, which fell further this week to a 1.0), the DVR is not going to save it. Similarly, the small time-shifted lift for freshman comedies such as Partners (+8%), The Neighbors (+13%) and Ben and Kate (+14%) doesn’t bode well for their fates.

Comedies generally had sharper drop-offs than dramas in week two. Fox’s Tuesday comedy block is struggling early despite a steady New Girl, with Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project both dropping more than 20% in their second week.

Not unexpectedly, ABC’s The Neighbors took a big hit without a huge Modern Family lead-in, losing 41% of its premiere audience. While NBC’s Animal Practice and Guys With Kids were mostly steady and CBS’ Partners declined a more modest 13%, their low starts also make their futures uncertain.

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