The fall television season is barely a week old but all four major broadcast networks already have something to celebrate.
"Everybody has got a potential hit on their hands," said Kelly Kahl, a
And the numbers look even better when delayed viewing, from people who record shows to watch later, are factored in.
Among the shows that opened big are the CBS comedy "The Crazy Ones" starring
At a time when
"This is a cautiously encouraging sign," Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz said.
To be sure, the majority of new shows fail and one week does not a hit make. Already, one of the most-anticipated series — NBC's "The Michael J. Fox Show" — opened with disappointing ratings.
The comedy, which incorporates Fox's real-life struggles with
"We hoped it would be enough of a self-starter to get sampled," Bader said.
While "The Michael J. Fox Show" got little help from NBC, "The Crazy Ones" owes some of its big numbers to having a special one-hour block of the smash comedy
"At the end of the day lead-ins still matter a heck of a lot," CBS' Kahl said.
This week, "The Crazy Ones" will have to stand on its own as another new CBS comedy, "The Millers" starring
NBC wasn't the only network with a sitcom that didn't deliver enough laughs. Fox's "Dads," a politically incorrect comedy about two fathers moving in with their adult sons, from
Among the broadcast networks, NBC has the most to brag about. It is up 15% in number of viewers — and 18% in the coveted adult 18-49 audience — compared with the first week of the 2012-13 season. The other broadcast networks are all down in viewers and in the 18-49 demographic, except for ABC, which is up 1% in the demographic.
The early hits and misses are not the only topic of conversation in the executive suites at the broadcast networks. More viewers are continuing to rely on digital videorecorders and video-on-demand versus watching live television.
CBS' Kahl said DVR playback — viewers recording shows and watching them later — is up 16% compared with a year ago.
"Live numbers are not the be-all and end-all," said Dan Harrison, Fox's executive vice president of strategic program planning. "I think in the future of television, you're going to see a show with a 100% lift."
The DVR effect may help save series that might otherwise get yanked from prime time after its first couple of episodes. The increase in delayed viewing means the networks can't just look at early Nielsen numbers to decide a show's fate.
"We have to be patient," said Andy Kubitz, ABC's executive vice president of scheduling and planning. "We need to let people catch up."
Kubitz is even remaining optimistic about "Lucky Seven," the network's new drama about a group of lottery winners, which drew only 4.43 million viewers in its debut.
"I'm not ready to call it a failure," he said.
Amid the onslaught of new programming, several returning shows also displayed surprising strength.
NBC brought the original lineup of celebrity judges back together to great effect for this season of
CBS still has a big hit in "The Big Bang Theory," now in its seventh season, after
Several of ABC's returning shows fell year-over-year, including