MBPT Spotlight: Most-Watched New Broadcast Series Have Oldest-Skewing Audiences

Through the first four weeks of the new broadcast television season, a handful of the most-watched new primetime series are also among the shows that have the oldest-skewing audiences on television, according to Nielsen Media data. And in a case of respecting one’s elders, for the most part, those series can thank their older-skewing lead-ins.

NCIS: New Orleans on CBS is averaging 16.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched freshman series in broadcast primetime, and ranking it third among all broadcast primetime series in viewership. NCIS:New Orleans also has a median-age audience of 62, tying it with veteran CBS series The Good Wife, Hawaii 5-0, CSI and ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. Also in that group with a median-age audience of 62 is NBC Wednesday night freshman police drama The Mysteries of Laura, which is averaging 9.1 million viewers.

CBS Sunday freshman drama Madam Secretary is averaging 12.2 million viewers, ranking it third-most-watched among the first-year broadcast network series, and it is also ranked as the oldest-skewing show, with a media-age audience of 64. It is tied with two other CBS veteran shows—Friday night police drama Blue Bloods and Sunday night newsmagazine 60 Minutes.

Both NCIS: New Orleans and Madam Secretary have older audiences that mimic their lead-ins. NCIS:New Orleans leads out of the original NCIS, while Madam Secretary leads out of 60 Minutes. In addition to the older audience, the veteran shows also offer their lead-outs lots of viewers. NCIS is averaging 17.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched series in broadcast primetime, and 60 Minutes is averaging 11.4 million viewers this season.

The Mysteries of Laura is drawing a sizable audience—and an older one—without help, since it leads NBC’s Wednesday night lineup at 8.

ABC Friday night at 8:30 freshman sitcom Cristela and CBS Wednesday night at 10 freshman drama Stalker have the third-oldest median-age audience among the new primetime series at 58. Cristela leads out of an older-skewing sitcom, Last Man Standing, on a night when most younger viewers are not watching TV. Last Man Standing has a similar median-age audience of 58 and is averaging 6.8 million viewers to Cristela’s 6.3 million.

Stalker leads out of CBS veteran drama Criminal Minds, which has a median-age audience of 57 and is averaging 11 million viewers this season, compared to 8.4 million for its lead out.

Other freshman series and their median-age audiences through four weeks include: ABC drama Forever (57); NBC sitcom Bad Judge (57); Fox drama Gracepoint (56); ABC drama How To Get Away With Murder (56); NBC comedy A to Z (55); ABC sitcoms Selfie and Manhattan Love Story (both 53); NBC comedy Marry Me (52); ABC comedy Black-ish (51); Fox drama Red Band Society (47); Fox drama Gotham (45); Fox reality series Utopia (44); CW drama Jane the Virgin (44); CW superhero series The Flash (42); and Fox comedy Mulaney (40).

Several of those series’ audiences age up from their lead-ins. Forever ages up seven years over that of its lead-in, Black-ish. Bad Judge ages up four years over lead-in The Biggest Loser.How To Get Away With Murder ages up three years over lead-in Scandal. Black-ish ages up just one year from lead-in Modern Family but loses a chunk of viewers. Modern Family is averaging 10.4 million viewers compared to 8.5 million for Black-ish.Modern Family is also averaging a 3.6 18-49 demo rating, compared to Black-ish which is averaging a still-solid 2.8.

Gracepoint has the same median-age audience as its lead-in, the veteran Fox drama Bones, only it loses a significant amount of the Bones audience. Bones is averaging 6.4 million, while Gracepoint is averaging 4.1 million.

While Gracepoint is struggling for Fox, the network is hoping the freshman series Gotham can stabilize where it’s at right now. The 8 p.m. Monday series, in a very competitive time period, is averaging 7.1 million viewers with a 2.8 18-49 demo rating, with a median age of 45.

The broadcast season is still young so it’s hard to make any surefire projections on which shows will be able to continue solid performances between now and May. However, among all the freshman broadcast primetime shows introduced last season, the oldest-skewing shows to be brought back this season were NBC drama The Blacklist and CBS sitcom The Millers, both with median-age audiences by the end of last season of 55.

Other freshman shows from last year returning this season and their median-age audiences were: ABC drama Resurrection (54); CBS sitcom Mom (54); NBC comedy About a Boy (53); CW drama The Hundred (50); Fox drama Sleepy Hollow (50); ABC drama Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (49); Fox cooking competition series MasterChef Junior (47); CW drama series Reign (47); Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine (41); and CW drama The Originals (39).

Among the freshman series from last season that were canceled, with their median-age audiences, were: CBS drama Intelligence (59); ABC series The Assets (59); NBC comedy The Michael J. Fox Show (58); CBS drama Hostages (57); ABC drama Black Box (56); ABC drama Betrayal (56); CBS comedy The Crazy Ones (55); CBS sitcom Bad Teacher (55); Fox drama Rake (55); ABC comedy Lucky 7 (54); ABC drama Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (54); NBC drama Dracula (52); NBC comedy Sean Saves TheWorld (52); CBS comedy Friends With Benefits (52); ABC comedy Mixology (50); Fox comedy Enlisted (49); and ABC comedy Super Fun Night (49).

The median-age audiences for most of the returning shows so far this season have not changed much from how they ended up last season.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which Fox moved to Sunday night at 8:30 leading out of The Simpsons this season, has seen its median age audience drop to 36 from 41 last season. Law & Order: SVU has aged up 3 years on NBC to a median-age audience of 59 from 56 last season. The CW’s Arrow has seen its median age drop by two years from 48 to 46. But for the most part, whatever is impacting each network’s overall median-age average is from this year’s influx of freshman series.

Season to date, CBS is the oldest-skewing primetime broadcast network with a median-age audience of 59. ABC has a median age audience of 55, NBC's is 53, Fox is at 46 and The CW is 42.