Tough night for network TV

“Pitch” (Fox).

Unless you’re CBS

After three nights of momentum, network TV slid off the rails Thursday as two programs’ premieres underwhelmed.

For the record, real-life events had an effect on TV schedules – police protests in Charlotte were covered on cable news networks and spurred pre-emptions on several Charlotte TV stations; and here in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave a speech on Chicago’s violence epidemic, leading into prime-time on several stations.

In a ridiculous move, CBS-owned WBBM-TV cut off the Mayor’s speech in order to carry the network’s NFL pre-game show. Yes, we understand the NFL trumps everything, but it shouldn’t be above an epidemic affecting communities in the city – especially in a place where the Bears aren’t doing shit this season. WBBM could have moved either the speech or the pre-game to its digital 2.2 subchannel, where Decades resides.

On to the shows: remember, all numbers are based on adults 18-49, unless otherwise noted. These are final numbers, provided by the Programming Insider.

Two new dramas debuted last night to lackluster numbers, meaning its going to be a tough road for both: ABC’s Notorious and Fox’s Pitch, both receiving equal amount of hype and the same amount of ratings: The former bowed with a 1.1/4 rating/share, down a whopping 56 percent from its Grey’s Anatomy lead-in (2.5/9). Pitch also bowed with a 1.1/4, but was up 57 percent from Rosewood’s 0.7/3.

Another major difference between the two: while Pitch received decent reviews (69 on Metacritic – though yours truly finds the premise unrealistic and does nothing to advance the cause for women’s sports), Notorious is a critical disaster: the drama only scored a 32 Metacritic score. Tip: never name your show after a Duran Duran song.

Notorious‘ lackluster performance also may have hurt How To Get Away With Murder, which drew a 1.4/5, but did improve from its’ lead-in. Which means:

In other news, NBC had a consistent night with the season premieres of Superstore (1.5/6), the time-period premiere of The Good Place (1.4/5), Chicago Med (1.4/5) and The Blacklist (1.3/4). Sampled during the Olympics, Superstore was recently picked up for the full season. Great move!

Finally, CBS far and away won the night with its Thursday Night Football matchup between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots with a 6.1/22 in adults 18-49, a 7.0/21 in adults 25-54, and 17.5 million viewers (the game was also carried on NFL Network and streamed on Twitter.) Despite a tremendous losing effort by Houston, ratings for TNF were actually up compared to year-ago time period numbers. The results should quiet those who thinks the NFL has peaked or blame the numbers decline on a football player who wouldn’t stand for the National Anthem – the latter coming from a right-leaning business publication, who once gleefully said Chicago was the “most miserable city in the country”.

Leave the “ratings analyzing” to the experts, not a past-its-prime magazine.