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‘Revolution’ Grabs Huge Premiere Audience

But the real question is, can NBC hold that audience?


“Revolution,” the new post-apocalyptic drama from J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke, did exactly what NBC had hoped it would do: bring in a huge audience.

But now the real trick is, can it keep the audience coming back?

“Revolution” premiered to a 7.1 rating/11 share, according to Fast National overnight ratings from The Nielsen Co., giving the network it’s highest-rated scripted premiere since “Smash” last February. The show topped a four-week run of “Grimm” in the timeslot, which averaged a 3.0/5 there in August, as well as the premiere of the comedy “The New Normal,” which earned a 4.6/7 there just last week.

The series also beat what NBC aired in the timeslot last year by 69 percent, which despite its audience loss from its “The Voice” lead-in, would be exactly what the network wants to see.

However, there is one area that NBC has been quite successful in besides low ratings in recent years — getting strong premieres, only to watch these heavily hyped shows fizzle in the subsequent weeks.

That happened first in recent memory with the Jimmy Smits series “Outlaw,” premiering to a solid 6.8/12 in September 2010. However, there was nothing solid about its second week where half the show’s audience had already abandoned it, leaving it at a 3.4/7 before falling even lower just ahead of its very quick cancellation.

The genre series “The Event” premiered the week after, also to impressive numbers — a 6.8/10. However, the audience left this show quickly in the following weeks, dropping it first to a 5.3/8, and then a 4.6/7 by its third week.

The comedy “Up All Night” drew a 6.7/11 for its premiere in September 2011, only to lose 40 percent of that audience by the second week, and nearly 48 percent by the third week.

One show that stayed solid in its early run was “Harry’s Law,” starring Kathy Bates. That show premiered to a 7.0/12 in January 2011, and stayed pretty consistent with its audience, dropping just to a 6.7/11 by its third week. In fact, by the time the show was cancelled at the end of its second season, it was NBC’s highest-rated scripted show, even ahead of “Smash.”

“Smash,” which gives a behind-the-curtain look at a broadway production as only a primetime soap could tell it, has had the biggest opening of the group, a 7.3/12 last February. However, by its third week, its audience had dropped 44 percent to a 4.1/7.

Will “Revolution” fall just as hard? It’s possible. However, the show has received generally good reviews, seems to have created a buzz among viewers, and has “The Voice” as a lead-in. What’s not to love — unless “The Voice” starts eroding audience like it did toward the end of its second season last spring.

For now, however, celebrate the strong opening. NBC deserves a break after finishing in last place among the Big Four networks the past few years. Maybe “Revolution” will help fuel that revolution.

“Revolution” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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