Resurrection Falls Back to Earth

ABC drama down 40 percent in hyper-competitive Sunday night slot

After a splashy debut in which it more than doubled its time slot predecessor’s average deliveries, ABC’s Resurrection has fallen back to earth.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the fourth episode of Resurrection last night averaged 8.39 million viewers and a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49, marking an 8 percent decline from the previous week’s draw. Strikingly, when compared to the 3.8 final rating notched by the March 9 premiere, last night’s installment was down 37 percent in the dollar demo.

Although the show’s decline is of some concern for ABC, Resurrection still handily defeated its 9 p.m. competition, outgunning Fox’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (1.5) and NBC’s Believe (1.1). An NCAA Elite Eight overrun delayed CBS’ The Good Wife by 20 minutes; the first post-Will episode averaged 11.0 million viewers and a 1.8 in teh 18-49 demo, making it the most-watched, highest-rated episode of Season 5.

While the ratings for the lip-smacking season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead won’t be tallied until later this afternoon, it’s all but certain that the zombie apocalypse drama will have beaten the Big Four broadcast networks’ combined demo score. UPDATE: It did. And how. Through the first 15 episodes of Season 3, The Walking Dead remains the top-rated scripted series on television, averaging a staggering 6.7 in the demo; by comparison, the No. 2 show, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, is drawing a 5.2 through 18 episodes.

Over at NBC, the network’s first stab at launching a Sunday night drama franchise since March 2009 is faltering. Ratings for Believe have plummeted 59 percent from its special Monday night preview on March 10, while dropping 27 percent versus its time-slot debut (1.5). Meanwhile, the 10 p.m. lead-out Crisis is now down 31 percent from the 1.6 rating it posted in its debut, drawing just a 1.1 last night.

With 25 pilots in play for 2014-15 (nine of which are dramas), NBC is unlikely to renew either Believe or Crisis. A second season of Cosmos would also appear to be a shot in the dark, not so much as a direct function of the ratings—through its first four episodes, the Fox science show is averaging a respectable 1.8 in the demo—but because host Neil deGrasse Tyson has committed to a single season. (“This is a one-shot deal. I have work to do!” Tyson told Adweek back in January, adding that it would take “a whole lot of money" to convince him to sign on for a second season.)

Assuming that Resurrection finds its level in the next few weeks (not an easy task, given that it will go head-to-head with AMC’s new Revolutionary War drama Turn and HBO’s wildly popular Game of Thrones beginning April 6), it will be the only new Sunday broadcast series to survive. It’s a tough night to launch a network show; last season, ABC was the only network to give it a go, bowing the one-and-done dramas 666 Park Avenue and Red Widow in the 10 p.m. slot. In 2011-12, five new series were introduced on Sunday night—only ABC’s Once Upon a Time earned a second season.

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