Nevermore: The Following Dispels TV’s Freshman Curse

Fox drama becomes first new series to grow demo in Week 2

Fox’s pitch-black new crime drama The Following on Monday night became the first freshman series of the class of 2012-13 to actually improve on its premiere ratings.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Episode 2 of The Following delivered 10.1 million viewers and averaged a 3.3 rating in the 18-49 demo. While there was a negligible decline in total viewers—Monday’s audience dipped 3 percent versus the premiere’s 10.4 million—the dollar demo grew one-tenth of a point from a 3.2 on Jan. 21.

Upon examination of the half-hour numbers, it appears that The Following retained 95 percent of its overall deliveries in the 9:30-10 p.m. time slot. Some 10.2 million viewers tuned in for the beginning of the second installment, and 9.69 million stayed aboard through the end credits.

The guaranteed rating demonstrated a similar trend, shrinking just 6 percent from a 3.4 in the demo to a 3.2 between the two half-hour segments.

While critics have savaged The Following for its graphic content, the success of similarly bloody-minded fare on ad-supported cable seems to support the assertion that there are an awful lot of viewers who actively seek out more graphic content. (Not for nothing was AMC’s The Walking Dead TV’s top-rated scripted series this fall.)

The early success of The Following gives Fox a much-needed shot in the arm after so many of the network’s recent Monday night dramas (Alcatraz, Terra Nova, Lone Star, The Chicago Code) have faltered.

And there’s no understating how The Following has bucked broadcast’s withering follow-up trend. Four new dramas lost as much as 20 percent of their premiere demos in Week 2, including ABC’s Nashville (down 29 percent, from a 2.8 to a 2.0); NBC’s Chicago Fire (down 21 percent from a 1.9 to a 1.5) and Deception (down 20 percent from a 2.0 to a 1.6); and CBS’ Vegas (down 20 percent from 2.5 to 2.0). CBS took a similar hit with its guaranteed deliveries, as Vegas dropped from a 3.6 rating among adults 25-54 in its premiere to a 2.9 the following week, a decline of 19 percent.

As for the two other midseason dramas on the Monday prime-time slate, the news was somewhat mixed. The Carrie Diaries improved from a 0.8 in the women 18-34 demo on Jan. 21 to a 1.0 last night, while the fourth installment of NBC’s new potboiler, Deception, continued to lose ground after premiering to a 2.0 on Jan. 7. Last night’s episode averaged a 1.2 in the dollar demo, tying it for second place with an encore presentation of the CBS drama Hawaii Five-0.

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