Viola Davis Drama “How to Get Away With Murder” Debuts Strongly for ABC

How to Get Away with Murder

Thursday was a very big night for Shonda Rhimes and ABC, with the latest show executive produced by the “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” creator — “How to Get Away With Murder” — opening with the largest young-adult audience for any new series this fall.

ABC was strong on two-thirds of Thursday a year ago, but the addition of “Murder” helped cap a lineup — branded by the network as “TGIT” (Thank God It’s Thursday) — that dominated last night among women and will place a strong second overall to CBS/NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers. The Alphabet dramas were the night’s top three entertainment series in the key 18-49 and 25-54 demos as well as total viewers and the net had its best Thursday to open a season in five years.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “How to Get Away With Murder” averaged a big 3.8 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 14 million viewers overall in the 10 o’clock hour, matching in 18-49 its strong lead-in from “Scandal” (3.8/11 in 18-49, 11.9 million viewers overall), which opened with a series high. Skewing a little older than “Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder” built slightly on its lead-in in 25-54 (4.4 vs. 4.3) while adding about 2 million total viewers.

The Viola Davis-fronted “Murder” performed nearly 10% better in 18-49 than last year’s second hour of the “Grey’s Anatomy” season opener, which aired on the Thursday of premiere week, and it also exceeded the “Scandal” season premiere in Week 2 of last season (3.6).

Among all series premieres this fall, “How to Get Away With Murder” ranks best in adults 18-49 — besting the 3.3 for ABC’s “Blackish” on Wednesday and Monday’s dramas premieres of “Scorpion” on CBS and “Gotham” on Fox (both 3.2).  In adults 25-54, “Murder” is neck and neck with “Scorpion” and “Blackish” as fall’s best debut.

“Grey’s Anatomy” opened the night for ABC (3.0/10 in 18-49, 9.8 million viewers overall), shifting to the 8 o’clock hour and placing second to football. Though down in 18-49 as expected from its two-hour, 9-11 p.m. debut of last year (3.4), it outperformed its final 11 episodes from last season while also delivering the show’s largest overall audience in nearly two years (since October 2012).

article by Rick Kissell via

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