By now, the majority of TV watchers have heard about NBC’s new tearjerker This Is Us. What people may not know is how much of an oddity the show actually is. The most recent episode, which aired on Oct. 11 in its new 9 p.m. timeslot, was watched by 9.87 million viewers and scored a 2.8 in the key 18-49 demographic, according to TV by the Numbers. That’s amazing, even as a standalone episode.
It’s even more amazing when you look at the ratings of the second episode, which aired on, Sept. 27, which was watched by 8.75 million viewers and scored a 2.6 in the key demographic, according to TV by the Numbers. When you go back even farther to the first episode that aired on Sept. 20, it was watched by 10.07 million viewers and scored a 2.8 in the demographic, according to TV by the Numbers.
So, what makes This Is Us so rare when it comes to ratings? Entertainment Weekly has broken down what makes the show so different than a lot of the other shows that are on the air.
First off, Tuesday’s episode marked the first episode where the show aired in its new 9 p.m. timeslot, as the first two episodes of the season aired Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. In terms of demographic ratings, The Voice, the show that leads off Tuesday nights on NBC, had a 2.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic. This Is Us had a 2.8, meaning there was growth in people watching This Is Us from the people who watched The Voice.
That statistic alone is impressive. It’s even more impressive when you realize that no scripted show has ever built on the ratings from The Voice. Usually, the ratings are the same as The Voice, or, as is more typical, is lower.
The third episode’s rating is also impressive because it matched its first episode’s rating in the third episode that has been broadcasted. This is odd because usually the ratings of shows decline until they find a solid number that they usually stay at for the rest of the season. The last time a show on NBC bounced back to its first aired episode was Friday Night Lights, which aired 10 years ago. And, just like This Is Us, Friday Night Lights was a critically beloved show that had (and still has) a dedicated fanbase.
It’s also been seven years since any fall drama has been able to achieve this feat on any of the broadcast networks. The closest a show has come to doing that is Fox’s Empire and the only reason it didn’t achieve the feat is because it premiered in the winter.
One of the final reasons that the ratings for This Is Us are so odd is because the show didn’t air on Oct. 4 due to NBC’s coverage of the vice presidential debate between Sen. Tim Kaine and Gov. Mike Pence. Usually, when a show doesn’t air a week, the episode’s ratings when the show returns are slightly lower. Adding to the fact that the show is now in its permanent timeslot of 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., it goes to show people still care enough about the show to watch it when it aired.
NBC is probably patting themselves on the back right now when it comes to This Is Us, especially since the show has already been picked up for an 18-episode first season, making it the first of any broadcast show this season to be picked up. If the trend of high numbers continues for the show, it’s highly likely that a second season renewal will be coming in no time.
This Is Us airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on NBC.