ABC’s decision to bundle returning hits Once Upon a Time and Revenge in its Sunday night drama block appears to have paid off, as both series premiered to strong numbers. Unfortunately, the solid 8-10 p.m. lead-in wasn’t enough to keep viewers in their seats for the debut of 666 Park Avenue.
Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Once Upon a Time  bowed to an average 11.4 million viewers and a 3.9 in the 18-49 demo, down slightly from the 12.9 million viewers and 4.0 rating the show drew in its Oct. 23, 2011 series premiere.
OUAT’s Season 2 opener marked an 18 percent improvement from the show’s May 13 finale (3.3).
At 9 p.m., the sudsy Revenge  drew 9.74 million viewers and a 3.2 in the demo, down a tick from the 10 million viewers/3.3 rating it delivered during its year-ago series premiere. (Last fall, Revenge aired in ABC’s Wednesday 10 p.m. time slot, leading out of Happy Endings/Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23.)
Despite the strength of the first two hours, ABC sagged at 10 p.m. The series premiere of the supernatural drama 666 Park Avenue scared up just 6.9 million viewers and a 2.1 in the demo, squandering 34 percent of its Revenge lead-in.
Year-ago comparisons were also rather bleak, as 666 Park was down 38 percent in total viewers and 32 percent in the dollar demo versus the Sept. 25, 2011 premiere of Pan Am (11.1 million/3.1 rating).
More than 1 million viewers tuned out between the 10-10:30 p.m. and 10:30-11 p.m. segments.
Per SQAD NetCosts data, a 30-second spot in 666 Park  costs $129,000, about what clients shelled out for a unit in Pan Am.
To be sure, 666 Park faced a tough competitive set, going head-to-head with NBC’s Sunday Night Football, the season premiere of Showtime’s Emmy-winning drama Homeland and a Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion on Bravo. On the hour, a nail-biter between NFC East rivals New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles  averaged 18.5 million viewers and a 7.5 in the demo, while CBS’s The Mentalist drew 11.1 million viewers and a 2.1 rating, down 25 percent from its Season 4 premiere (2.8).
The full SNF broadcast delivered 22.8 million viewers and a 9.0 rating.
An hour of football overrun (22.3 million viewers/8.5 rating) set the stage for Fox’s Animation Domination slate. The Simpsons returned for its 24th season with 8.08 million viewers and a 3.8 rating, down just one-tenth of a point from last year’s opener. Bob’s Burgers soared 37 percent to a 2.6 in the demo, Family Guy dropped 20 percent to a 3.3 rating and American Dad was off 17 percent (2.5).
(Despite the soft showing for Guy and Dad, creator Seth MacFarlane was given a nice shot in the arm this morning when the producers of ABC’s Academy Awards broadcast announced he’d host the 85th edition of the Oscars on Feb. 24.)
Meanwhile, at CBS, 60 Minutes clocked in with a 1.7 rating, down 26 percent from its year-ago performance. CBS was down across the board as The Amazing Race returned to a 2.5 rating (down 17 percent) and The Good Wife dropped 18 percent to a 1.8.
CBS had a rough go of it earlier in the weekend when the series premiere of the fish-out-of-water legal drama Made in Jersey  on Friday night bowed to just 7.82 million viewers and a 1.1 rating. And while CBS guarantees against its adults 25-to-54 ratings, that number was not at all promising, either (1.6).
To date, Made in Jersey’s live-plus-same-day performance makes it the lowest-rated series premiere of 2012-13. Runners-up are NBC’s Animal Practice (1.4), Fox’s The Mob Doctor  (1.5) and NBC’s Guys With Kids (1.6).
Viewers have six more series premieres to look forward to before the midseason players begin popping up. On Wednesday, Oct. 10, ABC takes the wraps off the much-anticipated Nashville, while NBC counters with the firehouse drama Chicago Fire. That same night, The CW drops its first new series of the season, premiering the superhero potboiler Arrow  at 8 p.m.
Beauty and the Beast (Oct. 11) and Emily Owens, M.D. (Oct. 16) will follow on the heels of Arrow, while ABC will hold off on debuting its new Reba McEntire comedy, Malibu County, until Nov. 2.