So far this TV season, which is still extremely young, five primetime series on the Big 4 broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC) are doubling their initial “live” rating among adults 18-49 within one week of DVR viewing. The Top 4 of those belong to ABC, according to a study of Nielsen’s Live + 7 ratings data.
With a whopping +150% increase from the evening of its initial airing, “The Good Doctor” is broadcast television’s largest grower. It helps that in this case the only episode of the Monday medical drama starring Freddie Highmore that we have Live + 7 Day data for thus far is the show’s Season 5 premiere.
Tied for second place at the moment are Wednesday’s “A Million Little Things” and Sunday’s “The Rookie,” both of which grew by 133% after one week of (mostly) DVR catch-up. In our study spanning Sept. 20, 2021 to Oct. 3, 2021, we can count two episodes apiece for them. We do not yet have a full week of delayed viewing for any episode of television that initially aired after on Oct. 4 or later.
A fourth ABC drama, Thursday night’s “Big Sky,” ranks fourth in our look-back with +125% growth. Similar to the case of “The Good Doctor,” the Season 2 premiere of “Big Sky” is the only episode of the season that we currently have +7 data for.
So those four, all from ABC, are the lone shows that we can say at the moment, with an admittedly tiny sample size, have more than doubled their ratings with delayed viewing.
CBS’ long-running Friday police procedural “Blue Bloods” grew by 100%, ranking fifth by this viewpoint. That doubling of its initial Nielsen rating only counts the Season 12 premiere.
It may come as no surprise that all five of these top growers are 10 p.m. shows. That’s the latest hour of primetime (for CBS, NBC and ABC — Fox does not nationally program the 10 o’clock hour) and it loses quite a bit of live viewing to bedtime.
Only one show of the five, CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” is a Friday show. That evening loses live viewers to viewers who have lives, if you’ll allow the pun. NBC and ABC air stuff that emanates out of their respective news divisions — “Dateline” and “20/20,” respectively — programming that does not get nearly as much DVR catch-up viewing as scripted series do.
Here’s what else helps make this list: None of the our Top 5 are particularly high-rated shows, with or without delayed viewing. Of the Top 5 growers, only “The Good Doctor” ranked among the 30 highest-rated primetime series last season. (Last season “The Good Doctor” tied for 29th, in the very early goings this season it’s tied for 26th.)
The lower the starting rating, the larger a lift can appear on a percentage basis. Case in point, had we included The CW in this evaluation, these rankings would have been seriously skewed by four series that grew from a 0.0 to a 0.1 and four others that rose from a 0.1 to a 0.2. The percentage change from 0.0 to 0.1 is not even calculable (without digging up another decimal point).
Also of note, Fox’s “9-1-1” and NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” just missed out starting off the season on this list. Both average delayed-viewing growth of 88% over their first two episodes. “9-1-1” is an 8 o’clock show, “P.D.” is another from the 10 p.m. hour.