The series drew just under 14 million viewers for its debut on Sunday night, more than AMC's "The Walking Dead" or any other program on what is usually television's biggest night of viewing, the Nielsen ratings company said.
That's behind only CBS' "Intelligence" as the most-watched drama debut of the season, Nielsen said. It's the best opening for a Sunday night drama on ABC since "Brothers & Sisters" in 2006.
Fox's "Cosmos" debuted to 6.6 million people on Sunday night, a strong showing for a program that's unusual for the network. It was Fox's most-watched program last week after "American Idol."
The news isn't particularly good for "Idol," however. The long-running hit reached just under 9.8 million people on Thursday, its second-smallest audience ever and the smallest audience among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that Fox seeks. NBC's "The Voice" is now the clear favourite in music competition shows.
Behind the top-rated comedy "The Big Bang Theory," CBS won the week with a prime-time average of 9.3 million viewers. NBC had 6.7 million viewers, ABC had 5.9 million, Fox had 4.7 million, Univision had 2.7 million, the CW had 1.5 million, ION Television had 1.3 million and Telemundo had 1.1 million.
ESPN was the nation's most popular cable network, averaging 2.8 million viewers in prime time. USA had 2.27 million, the Disney Channel had 2.23 million, TBS had 2.22 million and AMC had 1.7 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.7 million viewers. ABC's "World News" was second with 8.5 million, and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.6 million viewers.
For the week of March 3-9, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 18.09 million; "NCIS," CBS, 17.85 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 15.62 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 14.53 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 14.37 million; "Resurrection," ABC, 13.9 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 12.65 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 12.03 million; "The Millers," CBS, 11.58 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 11.42 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.