Once Upon A Time opened last night as the highest rated new drama premiere of the ’11-’12 season. It was a complete self-starter and even with huge sports competition got a 3.9 and almost 13 million viewers. Now it’s way to soon to know if it’s a long-term hit (although huge positive buzz everywhere is hopefully a good sign, but you never know) and lots of shows premiere strong only to drop BUT it’s another strong opening for an ABC show this season and I haven’t seen much press giving Paul Lee and ABC props for their early successes so far, so I thought I’d acknowledge them.
- Wednesday has seen increases across the board and I know I’m not in the minority when I say that from 8-11p ABC Wednesday is creatively on fire. (I don’t know another night during the week that I watch the entire 3 hours and enjoy all 3. It’s a terrific night of TV). The Middle is regularly hitting close to or (like last week) achieving a 3.0 (series highs) and Suburgatory is building on it. Modern Family is up a full point from last fall, and it’s easily the biggest scripted show on TV. Happy Endings is building off its much deserved praise and growing week by week. Revenge is finally plugging a long time hole for ABC, never getting lower than a 2.5 and usually either coming close to #1 or twice being the #1 demo show at 10 (even though CBS is usually #1 at 9:30). That’s no small feat. Plus in my own unscientific poll, Revenge seems to be one of the most buzzed about fall shows and one I imagine can potentially grow in the ratings (maybe some Christmas/New Year marathons will bring larger numbers in Jan).
- Despite less than stellar reviews, Last Man Standing had a 3.1 and 10 million viewers in week 2. That’s the best ABC has done in this slot in years. If it holds anywhere near there this week, expect a full season on Wednesday.
- Once Upon A Time is the highest rated drama premiere in the demo by a lot. Go to any site that covers TV and there seems to be a lot of positive and passionate comments. Of course it’s possible that it drops, but there’s no way to spin that premiere as anything less than impressive especially against The World Series and the NFL.
- I initially left out the stellar premiere numbers for Pan Am. While they have leveled off a lot, it’s nice to see ABC doing what it can to make it work. (They have retained veteran showrunner Steve Maeda and to get his thoughts on what he’d do for a back 9).
One more thing: I have seen some people chalking up Once’s premiere numbers solely to promotion. I think that’s selling lots of other factors (and departments) short. First of all, there are many of us that were enchanted by what we think is a great program created by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. Secondly, ABCs scheduling department scheduled it in the perfect slot. Sunday at 8p there is no other live action drama. The only other scripted option is animated comedy on FOX. The show is a four quadrant show and it’s worth noting that The Wonderful World of Disney ran for many years there. ABC scheduling also deserves kudos for separating all of their big premieres so they can maximize promotion. Initially I was even a skeptic at ABC keeping lower rated EM:HE on Sunday at 8 for the first month, but ABCs scheduling and spacing out their premieres has been nothing less than stellar. ABCs big push the first week was for Revenge and Pan Am. They delivered. Their next big push was Suburgatory the second week. It delivered. 3 weeks into the season they slotted in Last Man Standing and so they had ample time to give that show its promotional due. Finally, with Once they waited til Oct 23rd and it had a a good 3 weeks of solid TV promotion during the season, complete with an impressive outdoor campaign.
We’re only a month into the season and it’s a marathon not a sprint and I’m well aware that things that look good after one week or a few weeks sometimes don’t make it to a second season. But many of the stories I have seen regarding this fall season has been about CBSs (and FOXs) early success (and they most certainly deserve the praise) and all about ABCs aging shows declining. I thought it was important to acknowledge ABCs impressive openings and their smart scheduling and promotion as well.