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'The Muppets' beat 'Scream Queens' in premiere ratings

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Steve Dietl/Fox

Kermit and Miss Piggy throttled a sorority house of mean girls in Tuesday night’s ratings. 

ABC’s modern-day revival of The Muppets delivered strong premiere numbers, while horror comedy Scream Queens was surprisingly soft. 

The Muppets had 8.9 million viewers and a 2.8 rating among adults 18–49 at 8 p.m., and the two-hour Scream Queens opener had only 4 million viewers and a 1.7 rating (rising from a 1.6 in the preliminary report). 

Another series premiere, CBS’ Limitless (9.8 million, 1.8), had a somewhat mixed start at 10 p.m. — high in viewers and built slightly from its lead-in, though still a lower demo rating than networks hope to see for a premiere. 

The performance of Scream Queens is the biggest head-turn of the night. Producer Ryan Murphy’s latest was tracking strong in the industry’s pre-premiere polling (which correctly predicted successful openings for The Muppets and NBC’s Blindspot). Yesterday Fox released that the show was generating extremely strong interest on social media in the days ahead of its premiere, racking up more than 300,000 social media actions. Fox supported the show with a visually grabby ad campaign featuring stars Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Ariana Grande and Jamie Lee Curtis. And yet … a 1.7.

The silver lining for Scream Queens is the show’s ratings largely held steady over the course of its two hours, so almost all the viewers who started the show completed it — that kind of retention, especially over an unusually long premiere, is taken as a good sign (and that opener covered a lot of storytelling ground). So Scream Queens could still build, or at least maintain, its rating. Fox points out the show skews young and female and they expect a big boost from future DVR playback. 

The Muppets did well, as you would expect. Not huge. But that rating is about double the debut of Selfie last year (we will never forget!). The return of Fresh Off the Boat (6 million, 1.9) at 8:30 sank a bit from its lead-in. 

CBS had the premieres of NCIS (17.8 million, 2.4) and NCIS: New Orleans (12.5 million, 1.7), both down a bit from last year, with the flagship having its softest premiere ever. That Limitless premiere was on par with Person of Interest moving to this slot last year. 

NBC’s The Voice (12.1 million, 3.4) premiere week continued, also down somewhat. But that leads us to another bit of news (and this one is good): Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (6.2 million, 2.2) went up in the ratings for its second week — by 22 percent. Surprise! Granted, BTE’s lead in was upgraded from America’s Got Talent to The Voice, so the neo-variety show had more viewers going into 10 p.m., but nobody forces somebody to watch a series and winning an hour is winning an hour no matter what kind of help you get. 

Here are EW’s reviews for Scream Queens (B+), The Muppets (B-) and our take on Limitless (C).