Despite premiering against two repeats, NBC’s Awake got off to a sleepy start.
Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the psychodrama/procedural bowed Thursday at 10 p.m. to 6.24 million viewers and a 2.0 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic. While that’s a significant improvement from the numbers put up by previous inhabitants of the time slot, it marks one of the lowest-rated drama debuts of the season.
Awake put up only slightly stronger numbers than Prime Suspect, which bowed in the same time slot on NBC on Sept. 22. The Maria Bello vehicle averaged 6.05 million viewers and a 1.8 rating in its opening broadcast.
The Awake premiere was up 43 percent versus the Jan. 8 debut of The Firm, which notched a network low 1.4 rating before moving to the Thursday night slot. The Firm would go on to average just 3.61 million viewers and a 0.9 rating before NBC buried it in its Saturday night lineup.
NBC seemed to have had a huge competitive advantage last night, inasmuch as Awake went head-to-head with a pair of repeats. CBS ran a previously aired installment of The Mentalist, which drew 8.87 million viewers and a 1.7 in the demo, while ABC repeated Jimmy Kimmel’s post-Academy Awards special (3.03 million/0.9).
Of course, Awake would have been helped by a stronger lead-in. After The Office delivered 4.95 million viewers and a 2.5 rating at 9 p.m., Up All Night fell 30 percent to 3.47 million viewers and lost 36 percent of the demo (1.6).
NBC began offering the full Awake pilot online two weeks before its March 1 broadcast premiere. The series stars Jason Isaacs as a cop who survives a devastating car accident that effectively fractures his life into two warring “realities.” In one scenario, his wife survives the wreck; in the other, his son walks away from the crash.
Awake is commanding the highest average ad rates for NBC in its time slot, as clients are investing as much as $120,000 per 30-second spot. Time in Prime Suspect and The Firm was roughly 30 percent cheaper.
Although it has a distressing number of flops on its hands this season, NBC certainly isn’t the only network to endure a weak drama launch. For example, CBS’ A Gifted Man premiered on Sept. 23 to 9.45 million viewers, and while that isn’t a poor showing for a Friday night, the show skews so old—its median age is 61 years—that it only managed a 1.4 rating in the 18-49 demo.
Fox also launched a drama dud in The Finder. The Bones spin-off averaged 5.45 million viewers and a 1.7 rating in its Jan. 12 opener, although it rallied somewhat with an American Idol lead-in. Through six episodes, The Finder is averaging 6.22 million viewers and a 2.2 rating.
After next week’s episode, The Finder will go on hiatus for a month before moving to the Friday 8 p.m. slot on April 6.
With February sweeps receding in the rearview mirror, much of what aired in prime time was a repeat. Fox won the night outright as a two-hour American Idol averaged a Thursday-high 18.3 million viewers and a 5.4 in the demo.