Marvel's was seen by 12.2 million people in its series debut on Tuesday, the Nielsen company said. More importantly for ABC, it had the best ratings of any new broadcast drama in four years on all of broadcast television among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that executives consider most important.
CBS' "NCIS," the most popular show on television last year, debuted its new season to 20 million viewers directly competing with Marvel's. But the ABC series actually had more viewers in the youthful demographic, which advertisers consider most valuable.
The strong start is no surprise. The research firm Networked Insights, using its measurements of social media conversations over the summer, concluded that "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was the most anticipated new program of the fall television season.
ABC quickly announced it would rerun the series debut Thursday at 8 p.m., bumping a rerun of "Shark Tank."
Not all of ABC's news was good on Tuesday. The TV By the Numbers website reported that the 10 p.m. debut of "Lucky 7," a series about a group of co-workers who win the lottery, was the network's lowest rated drama debut ever.
NBC's two-hour Tuesday edition of "The Voice" was seen by 14.4 million viewers, and had the same rating among young viewers as "Marvel's," Nielsen said. NBC said the show's audience grew through the night — doing 42 per cent better in its last half hour than it did in the first. That's an indication that at least some of "Marvel's" viewers turned to the singing competition when the drama was done.