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CBS’ ‘Intelligence’ and NBC’s ‘Chicago P.D.' dominate early midseason debuts

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Tonight marks a full week since the networks came roaring back from their holiday break with a mix of new and returning series. So far last night’s debut of “Chicago P.D.” and Tuesday night’s sneak preview of “Intelligence” have found the best footholds, while other series have severely struggled.

The most recent series to make its premiere was NBC’s “Chicago’s P.D.” which is the spinoff to “Chicago Fire.” Last night’s debut pulled in 8.6 million total viewers and 2.0 in the coveted 18-49 demo. By comparison, that’s up from “Fire’s” premiere in 2012 (in the same timeslot) which drew 6.4 million viewers and a 1.9 in the demo.

Furthermore, it beat timeslot predecessor “Ironside” which faltered last fall with 6.8 million viewers and a 1.4 in the demo as well as THIS week’s episode of “Fire,” which on Tuesday night earned 6.9 million viewers and matched “P.D.'s” 2.0 demo rating.

All said, that’s enough to make “PD” this season’s No. 2-rated freshman drama in the 10 p.m. timeslot (behind network sibling “The Blacklist”). This is a solid start for the series, but the real test comes next week when it’s up against regular programming. ABC’s “Nashville” was on a break last night and CBS aired the People’s Choice Awards which was its own mixed bag.

Hosted by “2 Broke Girls” stars Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings, the annual event produced by Mark Burnett earned 10.2 million viewers which is its largest audience since 2010, but it hit a low in the demo with a 2.3 rating, which is its worst since 2008.

CBS has reason to celebrate though regardless as the night prior “Intelligence” stole the crown away for the most watched series launch for any show so far this 2013-2014 season. Bolstered by CBS’ pet death star “NCIS,” the special “preview” premiere drew 16.5 million viewers and a 2.4 in the demo. “NCIS” also had a nice night with 20.8 million viewers and a 3.0 in the demo, which is its largest audience of the season. “Intelligence” moves to its regular Monday’s at 10 p.m. home next week.

While NBC and CBS have something to be excited about, ABC is looking straight at a zero-for-two start this midseason as both of its new series have gotten destroyed in the ratings. Tuesday’s premiere of “Killer Women” is enough to put the show on its own hit list as the Sophia Vergara produced drama couldn’t even pull a 1.0 in the demo.

The eight episode first season could prove to be its last as the series barely netted 4 million viewers and earned a 0.9 in the demo. It doesn’t get much better by comparison as “Lucky 7” (which had the distinction of being the first axed show of the new season), even debuted higher with 4.4 million viewers and a 1.3 rating. Former timeslot inhabitant “Body Of Proof” was also significantly higher in viewers with 7.6 million, but still had a poor 1.2 demo, which is ultimately what did it in as well.

ABC’s mini-series “The Assets” which is filling in for “Scandal” during its hiatus actually managed to perform WORSE as it pulled 3.8 million viewers, but just a 0.7 in the demo. To put that into perspective, that is the lowest rated launch for one of the Big 4 networks (in season) ever…topping the mark set last year by NBC’s mid-season mistake “Do No Harm,” which managed a 0.9 in the demo.

The other major debut from this week was that of “Downton Abbey.” Airing stateside four months after it first bowed in the UK, the crossover smash powered PBS to a huge win as the season 4 double-episode premiere attracted 10.2 million viewers, a 22 percent jump from last season (7.3 million). Overall that ranks as PBS’ highest-rated drama premiere in the network’s history.

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