ABC's ambitious new drama "American Crime" got off to a decent start in the ratings Thursday night.
The show created by "12 Years a Slave" screenwriter John Ridley drew 8.4 million viewers on average and a rating of 2.0 among the key 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen.
That was easily enough to top its 10-11 p.m. time slot competition in the demographic and in total viewers. However, it clocked in lower than last week's season finale of the popular Viola Davis drama "How to Get Away With Murder."
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this post said "American Crime" won its time slot in 18-49 but not total viewers. It won in both measures.
With a respectable sampling in its debut, the true test will come in the coming weeks as "American Crime's" gritty, politically provocative narrative builds a following. Critics have compared ABC's gamble to prestigious shows that run on cable channels rather than the major broadcast networks.
ABC's Thursday night Shonda Rhimes shows, "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," rated higher than "Crime," with a 2.4 and 3.0, respectively, in the 18-49 demographic. "American Crime" was about 33% lower than its "Scandal" lead-in in the 18-49 demographic, the age category most desired by advertisers.
As usual, CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" was the night's biggest draw, with 17.9 million viewers total and a demographic rating of 4.7. The network's freshman comedy "The Odd Couple" rose slightly week-to-week to a 3.0.
NBC's "The Blacklist" fell a couple ticks to tie a series low of 1.7, while "The Slap" increased its rating but still managed just an 0.8.
On Fox, "American Idol" was flat with last week, and "Blackstrom" rose a bit to a 1.0.
Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder