Rake’s Charm Offensive Fails to Hook Viewers

Soft launch for Fox’s Greg Kinnear drama

Although it was given the plum slot leading out of American Idol, the series premiere of the new Fox drama, Rake, failed to drum up much business Thursday night.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the Greg Kinnear vehicle delivered a mere 6.95 million viewers and a 1.7 in the adults 18-49 demo, making it Fox’s lowest-rated drama premiere since The Mob Doctor bowed in September 2012. (That doomed genre mash-up arrived to an anemic 5.11 million viewers and a 1.5 in the dollar demo.)

Rake’s performance was particularly disappointing, given its strong lead-in and a watered-down competitive slate. At 8 p.m., American Idol delivered 12.4 million viewers and a 3.4 in the demo, down 13 percent from last week’s 3.9 rating.

All told, Rake squandered exactly half of its Idol lead-in. Viewers seemed to have decided early on that Rake wasn’t for them, as deliveries in the second half-hour dropped 16 percent to a 1.6, down from a 1.9 rating at the top of the hour.

Season-to-date, the Big Four nets have rolled out 15 new drama series. While Rake’s opening numbers are nothing to write home about, this was hardly the lowest-rated drama premiere of 2013-14. The ABC potboiler Betrayal bowed Sept. 29 to a 1.5 in the demo, while its Lucky 7 and NBC’s Ironside both drew a 1.3 in their respective openers. At the bottom of the heap lies Killer Women (0.9) and The Assets (0.7), which are also ABC offerings. Of the aforementioned series, three are officially canceled, while the other two may as well be.

For all intents and purposes, last night’s 9-10 p.m. slot should have been Rake’s to lose. CBS countered with repeats of The Big Bang Theory and The Crazy Ones—in keeping with its monster following, TBBT actually drew a 2.5 rating—while NBC’s moribund sitcoms The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World failed to catch fire after swapping time slots. Both shows averaged a 0.7 in the demo.

ABC didn’t fare much better, as the second hour of The Taste averaged a 1.3 rating. And while ABC and NBC pose little threat to the new Fox drama—Spanish-language net Univision last night beat them both in the demo—the return of CBS’ Thursday night comedy block is unlikely to do Rake any favors. At 9 p.m., the Robin Williams sitcom The Crazy Ones is averaging a 2.4 in the 18-49 demo, while the veteran series Two and a Half Men is eking out a 2.3 at 9:30—down 41 percent from its year-ago 3.9 average. (Men last season led out of Big Bang.)

Elsewhere on the dial, NBC’s Community (1.1) and Parks and Recreation (1.2) were flat versus last week, while its 10 p.m. drama Parenthood inched up one-tenth of a ratings point to a 1.3. Parenthood edged out repeats of Elementary on CBS (1.2) and ABC’s Shark Tank (1.2).

The CW’s Vampire Diaries returned from a five-week hiatus to a 1.2 rating, up a tenth versus its Dec. 12 delivery. Freshman drama Reign was flat with a 0.6.