Fox Carves Up Big Ratings With The Following

Killer drama scares up a 3.2 in the dollar demo

The series premiere of the Fox serial-killer drama The Following put up strong numbers on Monday night, beating its time slot predecessor by a whopping 113 percent.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, The Following scared up 10.4 million viewers and a 3.2 in the adults 18-49 time slot, doubling the deliveries of the previous 9 p.m. Monday placeholder, The Mob Doctor (5.11 million viewers, 1.5 in the demo).

Starring Kevin Bacon as a boozy former FBI agent called in to help track down a remorseless sociopath (James Purefoy), The Following now boasts the second-highest rating for a drama premiere in 2012-13. Only NBC’s Revolution (11.7 million, 4.1 in the demo) bowed to bigger numbers.

That said, Fox’s new series failed to outdeliver its midseason premiere of a year ago. On Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, Alcatraz drew a 3.3 rating in the same time slot. The show dropped to a 1.5 in the demo by the end of its 11-episode run.

While The Following was undoubtedly given a lift by a heavy promotional schedule—Fox ran a number of teasers for the show during its NFC Divisional Playoff series and the NFC Championship Game—the newcomer was not the beneficiary of a particularly strong lead-in. In the 8 p.m. slot, Bones averaged 8.47 million viewers and a fourth-place 2.3 in the demo.

On the bright side, The Following grew its lukewarm lead-in by 39 percent among the under-50 set.

The half-hour averages suggest that viewers who came to sample The Following were riveted to their seats. In fact, the overall deliveries did not change from one half hour to the next—the 10.4 million viewers who tuned in at the top of the hour remained locked in through the closing credits. Moreover, the demo inched up one-tenth of a point between the 9-9:30 p.m. slot and 9:30-10 p.m.

Despite its pitch-black pilot—series creator Kevin Williamson wasn’t shy about splashing gallons of red corn syrup all over the setThe Following has been a marketplace darling since the 2012-13 upfront. TV buyers estimate that the show commanded the highest unit cost of any new series in the spring bazaar, as Fox was able to fetch approximately $195,000 for each 30-second spot. By comparison, early investors in Revolution ponied up a mere $90,000 per spot, according to SQAD NetCosts data.

For the two other midseason efforts on the Monday night schedule, the news was far from encouraging. After debuting to a mere 1.61 million viewers and a 0.6 in the demo, The Carrie Diaries (the CW) fell to 1.27 million and a 0.8 in the target demo (women 18-34). Meanwhile, the third installment of NBC’s sudsy procedural, Deception, finished last in its 10 p.m. slot, averaging 3.61 million viewers and a 1.3 in the demo, down 35 percent from the 2.0 rating notched in its Jan. 7 series opener.

While Fox made the biggest splash of the night, CBS ran the table with its two-hour comedy block and Hawaii Five-O. Per Nielsen, CBS averaged 10.3 million viewers and a 3.0 in the demo to Fox’s 9.43 million/2.8.