How NBC’s ‘Transplant’ Has Become a Stealth Hit

Another nice thing from Canada

Transplant - Season 1
Photo by: Yan Turcotte/Sphere Media/CTV/NBC

tony maglio ratings report banner “Transplant” upgraded its title from a double entendre to a triple entendre when NBC imported the medical drama from Canada. Turns out, that international acquisition was a wise move — especially if you ask the folks at TiVo. (Yes, that company is still a thing, more or less.) The series, which centers on an ER doctor who fled his native Syria for Canada, is currently the most-watched scripted series on broadcast television, averaging 5.2 million total viewers per episode. (CBS’ “NCIS” will definitely have something to say about that when it returns next month as more established series come back on air following production delays due to the pandemic.) One key factor in the success of “Transplant” is viewers catching up to it later. The one-hour drama has posted the largest three-day delayed-viewing lifts for a scripted series across all of TV (broadcast and cable) every week for each of the five weeks that we have Nielsen numbers for the show. The same growth claim can be made for each of the first four episodes after seven days of delayed viewing. Live + 7 Day figures are not yet available for the week Episode 105 aired, but on the season, they comfortably place “Transplant” among broadcast’s Top 10 entertainment series. The Oct. 6 hour of “Transplant,” the fifth episode of the series, added 1.606 million viewers to its original tally after 72 hours of (mostly) DVR catchup viewing, according to Nielsen numbers that just came out on Friday. That is the largest tally the show has added in L+3 viewing to date. For context, the scripted television show with the second-largest three-day lift for the week of Oct. 5, 2020-Oct. 11, 2020 was “Fargo” on FX, with growth of 950,000 total viewers. Isolating broadcast only, the runner-up to “Transplant” for that week was Fox’s “Filthy Rich,” with growth of 902,000 total viewers. Here are the winning Live + 3 Day lifts for earlier “Transplant” episodes: Episode 101, Sept. 1: +1.345 million Episode 102, Sept. 8: +1.587 million Episode 103, Sept. 15: +1.566 million Episode 104, Sept. 22: +1.569 million (“Transplant” was preempted on Sept. 29 for the first presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden.) For in Live + 7, where the show not only leads TV, but thus far, it has topped its own growth weekly: Episode 1: +1.730 million Episode 2: +1.979 million Episode 3: +2.011 million Episode 4: +2.026 million According to Nielsen’s “most current” ratings data set, which includes one week of delayed viewing where available, “Transplant” is the 15th most-watched show on broadcast television — and that includes football. Blocking out NFL coverage, “Transplant” becomes a Top 10 show — and two of those shows are technically news (so, not entertainment) programming under the “60 Minutes” banner. “Transplant” is aided by a few factors beyond its quality: 1) It is a 10 p.m. show, and since people like to go to bed, episodes in that final hour of primetime (for CBS, NBC and ABC, anyway) tend to see the largest DVR lifts. 2) Fall TV — particularly scripted fall TV — has been highly depleted due to COVID-19 production shutdowns. 3) “Transplant” actually aired its first two episodes on NBC in the final weeks of what Nielsen considers the “summer” season, getting a jumpstart on what fall competition there actually is. We do not yet have delayed-viewing data from Nielsen for this week’s “Transplant” — but we can show readers what it is starting with. Click here.


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