What Premiere Rating For Each Returning Broadcast TV Show Should “Surprise” You?

When the 2018-19 broadcast TV season kicks off on September 24, the TV media will inevitably compare premiere ratings to last season’s ratings for returning shows. The most innumerate chuckleheads among them will be “surprised” when 2018 premiere ratings are below 2017 premiere ratings.

You shouldn’t be.

Given the 35+ year decline in broadcast TV ratings, ratings declines vs. last season’s premieres should always be expected.

What ratings should surprise you?

In recent memory, it’s been typical for shows to have premiere ratings close to their final episodes ratings from the previous season.

To identify what premiere ratings are truly surprising, the table below contains the average adults 18-49 Live+Same Day ratings for the last 4 new episodes during last season for each returning show.

If a show’s premiere ratings are within 0.1 ratings point of the numbers in the table it’s not “surprising”, it was to be expected.

If a show’s premiere ratings are more than 0.1 below or (particularly) above the ratings in the table, it’s surprising, the further away, the more surprising.

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Show (producer)"Expected" premiere 18-49 rating
ABC
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)0.5
American Housewife (ABC)1.1
black-ish (ABC)1.2
For The People (ABC)0.5
Fresh Off The Boat (Fox)0.9
Grey's Anatomy (ABC)1.6
How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)1.0
Modern Family (Fox)1.3
Speechless (ABC/Fox)1.1
Splitting Up Together (WB)1.0
Station 19 (ABC)1.0
The Goldbergs (Sony)1.2
The Good Doctor (ABC/Sony)1.6
CBS
Blue Bloods (CBS)0.8
Bull (CBS)1.2
Criminal Minds (CBS/ABC)1.0
Elementary (CBS)0.6
Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)0.8
Life in Pieces (Fox)1.0
MacGyver (CBS)0.7
Madam Secretary (CBS)0.6
Man With A Plan (CBS)0.9
Mom (WB)1.4
NCIS (CBS)1.3
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)0.8
NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)0.9
SEAL Team (CBS)0.9
SWAT (CBS/Sony)0.8
The Big Bang Theory (WB)2.3
Young Sheldon (WB)1.9
CW
Arrow (WB)0.4
Black Lightning (WB)0.5
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CBS)0.2
DC's Legends Of Tomorrow (WB)0.4
Dynasty (CBS)0.1
iZombie (WB)0.3
Jane The Virgin (CBS)0.2
Riverdale (WB)0.4
Supergirl (WB)0.5
Supernatural (WB)0.5
The 100 (WB)0.4
The Flash (WB)0.7
Fox
9-1-1 (Fox)1.6
Bob's Burgers (Fox)0.7
Empire (Fox)1.7
Family Guy (Fox)0.9
Gotham (WB)0.7
Lethal Weapon (WB)0.8
Star (Fox)1.3
The Gifted (Fox)0.9
The Orville (Fox)0.9
The Resident (Fox)0.9
The Simpsons (Fox)0.9
NBC
AP Bio (NBCU)0.6
Blindspot (WB)0.5
Chicago Fire (NBCU)1.0
Chicago Med (NBCU)1.0
Chicago P.D. (NBCU)1.2
Good Girls (NBCU)0.9
Law & Order: SVU (NBCU)1.1
Superstore (NBCU)0.8
The Blacklist (Sony)0.8
The Good Place (NBCU)1.1
This Is Us (Fox)2.6
Will & Grace (NBCU)1.0

Also published on Medium.