Fall is not starting out particularly well for the networks. The first new show out of the gate was Fox’s reality series, Utopia, a $50 million investment that Fox had planned to air twice a week for a year. The ratings for that, so far, have been heinous, although Fox insists its being patient (it grew 20 percent on DVR, which doesn’t much). I doubt it makes it past the World Series, however.
Meanwhile, New Girl and The Mindy Project debuted on Tuesday night, and those ratings results were also terrible, although — unlike reality shows — they’re likely to gain far more time-shifted viewers (we will know more next week).
Last night, NBC and Fox debuted the first new scripted shows of the season. First, the good-bad news: The Mysteries of Laura — which has been met with terrible reviews, including our own Sarah Carlson’s horrified GIF reactions — actually debuted with a spectaclar 10 million viewers, which suggests people really want to like a Debra Messing show (clearly, more than Sean Hayes’ sitcom last year, which didn’t get nearly the sampling on Thursday night).
However, there are a couple of caveats: The Mysteries of Laura debuted after the two-hour finale of American’s Got Talent, and it was not the show’s regular time slot (I believe it’s regular time slot is 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, with no lead in). The other caveat, of course, is that it’s unlikely that many people will stick with it after the dreadful reviews, though who am I to make any assumptions about a network television audience that prizes Big Bang Theory above all else (no offense).
Meanwhile, on Fox, the kids-with-cancer dramedy, Red Band Society with Octavia Spencer was not as well sampled. Granted, it was seen by more overall viewers (4 million) than either The Mindy Project or New Girl, but it’s demo numbers (1.3) were in line with the terrible numbers the night before. It’s also down from the 6.8 million viewers and a 2.3 in the demo that The X-Factor received in its debut last season in that same time slot.
The reviews have been fairly mixed-to-negative, but Fox may give Red Band Society a little time to find its voice and an audience because everything else, so far, has gone to hell for the network.