UPDATE: Great news for Revenge fans: The ABC freshman drama reversed its post-premiere ratings decline and grew for the first time. But the reason why the show improved is a mystery worthy of a TV crime drama.
Here’s the deal: Revenge (7.9 million viewers, 2.7 adults 18-49) beat CSI (12.7 million, 2.6) in the adult demo to win the 10 p.m. hour in the preliminary ratings — the first time that’s happened since the soap’s heavily promoted premiere. The race between Revenge and CSI was as close as it gets, and these early numbers could shift just slightly when the national ratings come out this afternoon, but either way Revenge will have improved from last week.
But there’s another Factor that could have come into play: Fox’s two-hour The X Factor was unexpectedly taken off the playing field last night. So did any shows benefit from having disappointed Fox viewers wandering the dial searching for something else to watch? Alternately, were any shows harmed by having ALCS Game 4 overrunning deep into prime time on the East Coast?
Short answer: It’s unclear, but it doesn’t appear like the shakeup had a major impact. Most shows were steady from 8 to 10 p.m., when Factor was scheduled, with some ticking down slightly. The baseball game may have hurt CSI (CBS tends to have a sports friendly audience), but then why was CSI down 10 percent to a season low against Revenge, but Survivor (10.5 million, 3.2) and Criminal Minds (12.7 million, 3.7) only slipped 3 percent? And why was another 10 p.m. crime drama, Law & Order: SVU (7.2 million, 2.1), unchanged?
ABC was seemingly not impacted either way… at least, at first. But then its ratings compared to last week abruptly rose for Happy Endings (8.8 million, 3.3) at 9:30 p.m. and then again for Revenge.
So what do you believe? Did Revenge grow from some scheduling quirk, or because the drama is gaining popularity? I suspect the primetime shakeup may have somehow helped Revenge a little, but its growth is still based on something real — nobody forces somebody to watch a TV show, and the rest of the night had pretty ordinary numbers. And if ABC believes the drama is on the rise, this time-slot competitiveness is exactly what a network looks for when deciding whether to give a new show a full-season order.
Some quick other notes from Wednesday night: Modern Family (13.4 million, 5.7) was unchanged, nabbing the title as the night’s top-rated show. NBC’s Up All Night (5.2 million, 2.0) fell 13 percent to its lowest-rated telecast (um… baseball?). Harry’s Law (7.6 million, 1.2) — which just got an order for six more scripts don’t you know — was unchanged.
I’ll update this post in the afternoon when the national ratings come out — baseball ratings will be available then too — in case it changes anything.
UPDATE 2: Both CSI and Revenge stayed the same in the national ratings. Fox’s Game 4 averaged a 2.5 in the demo, which is lower than what X Factor normally pulls.