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TV Deathwatch: Could NBC's ‘Free Agents,’ ‘The Playboy Club’ Be Fall's First Casualties?

Hank Azaria comedy draws an anemic 1.0 rating in key demo

Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn of 'Free Agents' | P?hoto: Mike Ansell/NBC

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A mere two weeks into the fall TV season and it appears that NBC may have two dead series on its hands.

According to final Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, NBC’s new Wednesday night sitcom Free Agents is at death’s door, drawing a feeble 3.07 million total viewers and a 1.0 rating/3 share in the adults 18-49 demo. The Hank Azaria comedy fell 19 percent from last week’s preliminary delivery (3.87 million viewers), while the demo dropped 23 percent from an already poor 1.3/4.

Free Agents joins The Playboy Club on the short list of new shows that are most likely to get sent out to pasture before Columbus Day. Amidst a relentless smear campaign by the Parents Television Council, the Bunny drama on Monday delivered just 3.97 million viewers and a 1.3 rating.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the NBC, which boasts one of the top new comedies in Whitney. One of two projects developed by comedian Whitney Cummings—the other is CBS’ smash hit 2 Broke GirlsWhitney premiered last Thursday to 6.85 million total viewers and a 3.3 rating/9 share.

Meanwhile, the Will Arnett-Christina Applegate comedy Up All Night continues to put up serviceable ratings in its Wednesday 8 p.m. time slot, delivering 5.32 million viewers and a 2.1/6 in the demo last night.

Comedy is the story of the 2011-12 season, as ABC’s new sitcom Suburgatory debuted to 9.81 million viewers and a 3.3/9 rating at 8:30 p.m. The fish-out-of-water comedy improved on its lead-in (The Middle, 2.7/8) by 22 percent.

At 9 p.m., Modern Family won the night with a 5.7 rating/15 share in the demo and a delivery of 13.5 million viewers. Both numbers represented slippage of just 7 percent versus Modern Family’s season premiere.

New ABC drama Revenge fell within the customary 15-to-20 percent range at 10 p.m., dropping 16 percent from its premiere delivery of 10.2 million viewers to 8.54 million. The demo took a bigger hit, falling 21 percent to a 2.7/7.

On the unscripted front, The X Factor is not the smash hit that Fox was hoping for, although it’s too early to say if the show won’t prove to be a grower. Last night’s installment of the musical competition series delivered 11.9 million viewers and a 4.1/11 rating in the demo in its 8-10 p.m. slot, down from its Sept. 21  numbers (12.5 million viewers, 4.4/12 rating).

The X Factor’s 4.1 in the demo made it the No. 2 program on the night among adults 18-49, trailing only Modern Family. In terms of reach, Factor was Wednesday night’s third most-watched show behind Modern Family and Criminal Minds (12.6 million).

Fox won the night with an average 3.9 rating/11 share in the demo, while CBS boasted the largest audience, averaging 11.6 million total viewers from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ABC and CBS put up matching 3.3/9 demos, and Univision beat NBC in the demo for the second time this week, notching a 1.8/5 to NBC’s 1.6/4.