Pre-debate premiere was network’s highest-rated series debut since the first week of 2019
NBC didn’t bring that weak stuff when it rebooted “The Weakest Link,” which on Tuesday drew the broadcast network’s highest ratings for a series premiere in nearly two years.
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The Jane Lynch-hosted trivia game show recorded a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49, which was the best debut for an NBC program since “America’s Got Talent: Champions” bowed back on Jan. 7, 2019 to a 1.8 rating. A pair of fellow newbies, “Bring the Funny” (July 9, 2019) and “The Enemy Within” (Feb. 25, 2019), both matched “The Weakest Link’s” 1.2 rating, but those two sit lower in unrounded Nielsen ratings.
That 1.2 rating for “The Weakest Link” may not have been off the chain, but it was NBC’s best Live + Same Day number since June 30’s “America’s Got Talent” episode — so the early fall start pretty much topped the entire summer.
We’re not going to ignore the fact that viewer interest in the presidential debate that followed played a significant factor in “Weakest Link” ratings. All one has to do is look to the competition CBS and Fox, both of which saw season highs for their own debate lead-ins, “Love Island” and “Cosmos,” respectively.
Still, you can only beat what’s in front of you, and Lynch’s “Link” did just that. The NBC game show won its time slot in each of the most-significant demos: adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and total viewers.
Additional evidence of the debate anticipation can be seen in the show’s gains for each quarter-hour. From 8 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., “The Weakest Link” posted a 1.0 rating. Over the next 15 minutes it had a 1.1. From 8:30-8:45, the rating among adults 18-49 was a 1.2. The show’s final 15-minute period scored a 1.4 rating.
“The Weakest Link” would have been welcome last season too. The revival’s premiere topped NBC’s already strong time-slot average from the 2019-20 season (a 1.1) by +9%.
We’ve got some more recent-history details too: Excluding special previews, which are generally what a network would code a new show launching in what will not be its regular time slot, there have been 14 NBC series premieres in the time between “AGT: Champions” and “The Weakest Link.” Of those, “The Weakest Link’s” 1.2 debut rating matched two and bested 12. (Technically it beat all 14 if you again go to unrounded figures.)
And if one was so inclined to include those three special previews, Tuesday’s “The Weakest Link” did better than those as well.
All of this reboot talk have you feeling nostalgic? The original “Weakest Link” season on NBC, back in 2000-01 when TV viewing habits were completely different, averaged a 5.2 rating. The second and final season did a 3.3.
Ah, to not be 2020 again. (We’d sacrifice the DVRs and the streaming services to be able to leave our houses.)
“The Weakest Link” airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.
12 Highest-Rated Broadcast TV Shows of Summer 2020 (Photos)
No, it just FEELS like 12 nights of “Big Brother”
Summer is over and it goes without saying that coronavirus threw off pretty much everything about the season, including broadcast TV. But in a time of production delays and pushed premiere dates, June, July and August still saw new episodes of staples like "America's Got Talent" and "Big Brother," and the debuts of newbies like "Don't" and "Broke" (R.I.P.) These are the highest-rated broadcast shows of 2020 ranked from lowest to highest, according to "most current" Nielsen data. For the purposes of this list, we omitted sports and only counted shows that aired five episodes or more between May 21 and Sept. 20. And yes, there are ties.