ABC won the opening Wednesday of the season in Adults 18-49 (2.8/8), leading by double digits over FOX by 12 percent (2.5/7), NBC by 17 percent (2.4/7) and CBS by 17 percent (2.4/7). ABC's "Modern Family" was the dominant No. 1 TV show of the night across all key Adult demos. In viewers (8.8 million) and young adults (2.8/8), ABC marked its strongest Wednesday since last October - since 10/10/12.
Ranking No. 1 at 8 p.m. in Adults 18-49 (2.4/8-tie), the season opener of "The Middle" was up from its season finale in May by 20 percent (2.0/7 on 5/22/13). "The Middle" delivered its biggest audience since November (8.8 million), and top young adult number since January (2.4/8) - since 11/14/12 and 1/23/13, respectively.
Delivering strong Adult 18-49 lead-in retention in the 8:30 p.m. half-hour (92 percent - net's best comedy retention in the half hour since the 2011-12 season), ABC's debut of "Back in the Game" was up over the year-ago premiere of "The Neighbors" (10/3/12) in the slot by 25 percent in viewers (7.9 million vs. 6.3 million) and by 16 percent in Adults 18-49 (2.2/7 vs. 1.9/5), to deliver ABC's best series performance in the half-hour in one year - since the one-hour season premiere of "The Middle" on 9/26/12. The new show ranked No. 1 in the slot with key Men (M18-34/M18-49).
ABC's "Modern Family" (4.1/11) nearly doubled its Adult 18-49 lead-in and dominated the 9 o'clock hour over the season premiere of CBS' "Criminal Minds" (by 46 percent: 2.8/8), FOX's "The X Factor" (by 58 percent: 2.6/7) and NBC's season premiere of "Law & Order: SVU" (by 64 percent: 2.5/7). "Modern Family" grew over its May finale in viewers (by 14 percent) and young adults (by 11 percent), drawing its largest audience (11.4 million) since January and highest Adult 18-49 number since April - since 1/9/13 and 4/3/13, respectively.
During the 10 o'clock hour, ABC's "Nashville" tied CBS' "CSI" season premiere in Adults 18-49 (2.1/6). "Nashville" was up over its May finale by double digits in Total Viewers (by 10 percent) and Adults 18-49 (by 11 percent), earning its most-watched telecast (6.6 million) since Oct. 17, and its highest young adult number since Jan. 16. It was the series' third-strongest performance ever.
A note about increasing DVR penetration and year-to-year rating comparisons: Year-to-year rating comparisons based on the Live + Same Day data stream are distorted by the level of DVR penetration in the Nielsen sample, which has jumped up to 48 percent currently, from 45 percent at the same point in 2012. More viewers are watching shows on their own timetables, which may not be reflected in the overnight next day numbers. The only truly valid year-to-year comparison would be one based on the Live + 7 Day metric, once those stats are released by Nielsen.
Source: The Nielsen Company (Fast Affiliate Live + Same Day Ratings), 09/25/13.