How ‘Quantico’ Is Dominating TV Ratings in an Undercover Way

The ABC drama may not be pulling in overwhelming live numbers, but its delayed-viewing growth is huge

Last Updated: December 1, 2015 @ 2:01 PM

Considering its competition, “Quantico” does all right on Sunday nights — but where it really makes its bones is in the week that follows.

The Nov. 15 “Quantico” episode, the most recent for which live-plus-seven day ratings are available, has officially claimed the season’s top delayed-viewing growth percentage across the Big 4 broadcast networks. The episode jumped 138 percent in one-week delayed viewing, topping the prior seasonal record claimed by the same series two weeks earlier. And the Nov. 8 episode of “Quantico” is actually sitting in third place — per our below ranker — with 131 percent L7 growth.

As a matter of fact, only an Oct. 15 “Blacklist” (up 114 percent) breaks up that “Quantico” chart-topping run, which could have easily been four straight. Oct. 11’s episode of the Priyanka Chopra drama lifted just one point less (113 percent) than the James Spader NBC offering.

Expect the trend to continue after another week off: the “American Music Awards” aired on ABC on Nov. 22. But this past Sunday’s “Quantico” may top all of its predecessors, as it went up against a particularly massive NFL contest, when the New England Patriots were handed their first loss of the season. The Denver Broncos took care of business in overtime, and the game jumped an initial 38 percent in Nielsen fast national ratings week over week.

Interesting, yes — but maybe not shocking. After all, “Quantico” airs at 10 p.m. on Sundays, so it’s both late and up against TV’s biggest series, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” — a double-whammy for live viewing. Fox doesn’t have 10 p.m. programming, and CW doesn’t air a national schedule across all of Sunday primetime.

So, basically, it would make sense to predict that the 10 p.m. ABC series or 1CBS show would earn this title of top seven-day lift, which is neither good nor bad in and of itself, really. CBS tends to skew older than ABC, which means the Disney broadcast net would logically have more technology adopters, which surely helps. Though ironically, at 10 on Sundays, CBS airs its most technological show, “CSI: Cyber.”

Mathematically, it’s also far easier for a low-rated show to jump on a percentage basis than a better-rated one. Through 8 weeks of available data, “Quantico” starts at a modest 1.5 on average in Live + Same Day Viewing, and grows to a much-healthier 3.2 within the week.

On a seasonal average basis, “Quantico” logically leads the way as well, with a seasonal average of 113 percent growth. It’s the only Big 4 show that is actually watched more after it airs live, though CBS’ “Elementary” and NBC’s “The Blacklist” both double their initial audience, growing 100 percent on average.

Here are the Top 26 episodes (including ties) by seven-day growth percentage thus far this season:

1. QUANTICO-11/15/2015: +138%
2. QUANTICO-11/01/2015: +133%
3. QUANTICO-11/08/2015: +131%
4. BLACKLIST-10/15/2015: +114%
5. (tie) QUANTICO-10/11/2015: +113%
(t) ELEMENTARY-11/12/2015: +113%
7.(tie) BLACKLIST-10/22/2015: +107%
(t) BLACKLIST-11/05/2015: +107%
(t) QUANTICO-10/25/2015: +107%
10.(tie) CASTLE-11/09/2015: +100%
(t) NASHVILLE-10/07/2015: +100%
(t) QUANTICO-10/18/2015: +100%
(t) WICKED CITY-11/10/2015: +100%
(t) CSI: CYBER-11/01/2015: +100%
(t) BLACKLIST-10/08/2015: +100%
(t) PLAYER-10/29/2015: +100%
17. (tie) HOW TO GET AWAY W/MURDER-10/29/2015: +94%
(t)BLACKLIST-10/01/2015: +94%
19. (tie) BLACKLIST-10/29/2015: +93%
(t) BLACKLIST-11/12/2015: +93%
(t) LAW AND ORDER:SVU-11/04/2015: +93%
(t) SCREAM QUEENS-09/29/2015: +93%
23. HEROES REBORN-10/08/2015: +92%
24. (tie) NASHVILLE-10/14/2015: +91%
(t) HEROES REBORN-10/15/2015: +91%
(t) HEROES REBORN-10/22/2015: +91%