Chicago P.D. Off to a Promising Start on NBC

A rare 10 p.m. win for broadcast

In a season marred by wholly forgettable 10 p.m. launches, NBC thus far is the only broadcaster showing signs of life in the final hour of prime time.

The Peacock on Wednesday introduced a new Dick Wolf cop drama, Chicago P.D., and the preliminary ratings are promising. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the Chicago Fire spinoff delivered 8.59 million viewers and a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo, making it the second-biggest 10 p.m. debut of the season. (NBC’s The Blacklist bowed Sept. 23 to 12.6 million viewers and a 3.8 in the dollar demo.)

Chicago P.D. topped the year-ago debut of the flagship series, which kicked off in fall 2012 to 6.61 million viewers and a 1.9 in the demo.

Compared to the previous time slot occupant, Chicago P.D. looks like a runaway hit. The Oct. 2 premiere of NBC’s Ironside reboot drew a paltry 1.3 in the demo, whereupon the show’s days were numbered. Canceled just 16 days after it arrived, Ironside averaged just 4.95 million viewers and a 1.1 rating.

But for The Blacklist and Chicago P.D., such has been the plight of the new 10 o’clock crop. By far, ABC was had the worst luck; the network canceled its Tuesday night lottery drama Lucky 7 after two episodes—the show averaged 3.53 million viewers and a 1.0 rating—and Lucky successor Killer Women fared even worse in its debut. Per Nielsen, the Tricia Helfer vehicle bowed this week to a 0.9 rating.

While it’s still on ABC’s Thursday night schedule, it’s difficult to imagine how patient the net will be with its limited series, The Assets, which was D.O.A. with a premiere average of 3.77 million viewers and a 0.7 rating. 

CBS made a rare miscue with its serialized drama Hostages, which bowed on the first night of the season to 7.41 million viewers and a 1.8 rating. Despite getting drubbed by The Blacklist, CBS stuck to its guns, airing all 15 episodes. The network closed the curtain on the project by airing back-to-back episodes opposite the BCS title game. All told, Hostages averaged 5.16 million viewers and a 1.0 adults 18-49 rating.

The drama that will replace Hostages Monday nights at 10 o’clock actually premiered Tuesday night at 9 p.m. For the time being, slap an asterisk next to CBS’ Intelligence, which scared up 16.5 million viewers and a 2.4 rating; there’s no way of telling how the newcomer will fare in its regular slot until it actually sets up house there on Jan. 13.

Lastly, NBC’s Dracula dropped to particularly impressive numbers for a Friday night drama, averaging 5.26 million viewers and a 1.8 rating on Oct. 25. Since then, however, the period piece has seen its deliveries fall to a 0.9.

Chicago P.D. will face its first real test next week, when it goes up against CBS’ CSI and ABC’s Nashville. Last night, CBS pre-empted its regularly scheduled programming to present the People’s Choice Awards (10.4 million viewers, 2.4 rating), while ABC aired a repeat of its November David Blaine special (3.85 million/1.4).

If new series have long been finding 10 p.m. a tough nut to crack, a handful of legacy shows are holding their own in the hour. Of the top 30 broadcast series, five are veteran series that air in the final hour of prime: Scandal, Chicago Fire, Castle, Person of Interest and Elementary. Per Nielsen C3 data, Scandal was the top-rated 10 o’clock drama heading into the holiday break, averaging a 3.6 in the target demo.