February 12, 2013 at 05:08 PM EST

Can Fox’s The Following solidify into success?

The first two episodes were solidly solid-ish. Last week the freshman drama dropped a little. Monday’s episode dropped some more — 17 percent. The serial killer thriller is still doing okay. The Following had 7.7 million viewers and a 2.4 rating, rising slightly from its Bones lead-in.

Since the start of the year, new shows haven’t been doing well. TNT’s Monday Mornings, FX’s The Americans (the second episode dropped sharply), CBS’ The Job have disappointed, and there’s the whole NBC situation. The best-performing major series launch since the start of the year has been The Following, so seeing the heavily hyped drama soften in the ratings is worrisome.

Fox points out that viewership on the series is actually pretty big once you total up all the various platforms. If you take The Following‘s series premiere next-day viewership (10.4 million) add its seven-day DVR gain (4.7 million) add its encore telecast (2.8 million — hey, cable networks do this all the time!) and add video on demand (1 million) and add online streaming via Fox.com and Hulu (1.4 million “initiated streams”… I know, but go with it) … total all that up and you get about 20 million viewers. Granted there’s some voodoo math there, but it still tallies to an impressive number that largely isn’t counted in media reports.

These next-day ratings, like the chart below, are still important too, though, and networks rely on them heavily to make decisions (NBC didn’t wait for the seven days of DVR data to come in before making the decision to cancel Do No Harm). The first round of numbers don’t tell you the grand total number of people who will watch a show, but they do tell you how many watched compared to other shows on the air and whether the numbers are trending up or down. Next-day ratings are like box office opening weekend — they tend to accurately separate hits from flops based on a first round of data. It’s middling shows like The Following where things can get tricky to judge, but a downward trend is a downward trend no matter how you slice it. Let’s hope the show stabilizes in the coming weeks.

Back to the chart: ABC’s Bachelor and Castle were both up slightly, with Bachelor climbing to a season high. CBS’ comedy block was down across the board from last week when HIMYM helped kick start the lineup with a season high (Robin Sparkles giveth and now taketh away). NBC’s Biggest Loser was down a tick and Deception was up. CW’s Carrie Diaries was down a tick.

Full Chart:

FOX 8-9P BONES #7 2.2 8,730
9-10P FOLLOWING #6 2.4 7,748
ABC 8-10P BACHELOR #5 2.7 8,384
10-11P CASTLE #9t 2.0 8,911
CBS 8:00P HIMYM #2 3.2 9,022
8:30P RULES ENGAGEMENT #4 2.8 8,372
9:00P 2BROKE GIRLS #1 3.5 10,785
9:30P MIKE&MOLLY #3 2.9 10,393
10-11P HAWAII 5-0 #8 2.1 9,478
NBC 8-10P BIGGEST LOSER #9t 2.0 5,488
10-11P DECEPTION #11 1.3 3,296
CW 8-9P CARRIE DIARIES #12 0.6 1,307
9-10P 90210 #13 0.3 669

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