TV Premiere Week Sinks to Record Low Ratings… ‘SNL’ Premiere Falls 30%

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TV Long View: Premiere Week Lows and the Industry’s New Normal

Here is a partial list of shows that have had their lowest-rated season premieres in the past couple of weeks:

Modern Family, The Good Doctor, Young Sheldon, Law & Order: SVU, Empire, NCIS: New Orleans, American Horror Story. It would be no surprise to see the likes of The Flash and The Walking Dead join that group when they open their seasons in early October.

Ad-supported TV is swimming against a years-long tide of declining viewership, coupled with an explosion of other places to watch programming — everything from Netflix to Twitch.

On top of that, networks are adapting to the changing landscape by trying to reach viewers via their own apps and digital platforms, which makes it awfully easy for a viewer to miss an episode when it airs, forget to set the DVR and still be able to catch up.

As a result of all those changes, same-day Nielsen ratings — the numbers that are released every morning — have fallen precipitously in recent years. Some of that audience has in fact migrated to delayed viewing or other platforms, but some of it is just gone.


TV Ratings: ‘Saturday Night Live’ Premieres Lower

Saturday Night Live was not immune to the overall ratings declines in the first week of the 2019-20 TV season.

The NBC late-night staple posted smaller preliminary ratings for its 45th season premiere than it did in 2018.

The premiere, hosted by Woody Harrelson and featuring Billie Eilish as musical guest, drew a 4.1 household rating in overnight metered markets and a 1.6 among adults 18-49. That’s down about 15 percent in households and 30 percent in adults 18-49 vs. last season’s opener (4.8 and 2.3).


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