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This Is Us surprises with ratings surge

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Vivian Zink/NBC

This Is Us delivered a highly unusual ratings surprise Tuesday night. 

Debuting for the first time in its new time period, the dramedy delivered 9.8 million viewers and a 2.8 adults 18-49 rating, growing from its The Voice lead-in in the demo (10.6 million, 2.5 rating)

Here are all the ways that’s a head-turning performance:

— This Is Us is the first scripted show to ever build on a lead-in from The Voice. Normally the musical competition has a strong number and the best the next show can do is retain the same rating, or, most often, something several notches lower. 

— This matches the ThIs Is Us series premiere from late September. Normally shows premiere at one level, then decline week after week until hopefully settling at a decent level. For This Is Us to bounce back to its premiere number a few weeks in is considered highly unusual. In fact, that the last time an NBC drama matched its premiere rating in the third week was 10 years ago (a show called Friday Night Lights). And no fall drama premiere on any of the big four networks has managed this in seven years (though spring drama premiere has recently pulled it off — Fox’s Empire).  

— Last Tuesday, NBC carried the vice presidential debate instead of This Is Us, and on Tuesday night the show aired in its new, earlier time period. Usually any disruption in a viewing pattern makes a show’s ratings go down. Tuesday’s numbers prove that viewers were eager enough keep up with the scheduling changes.

This Is Us went head to head with another freshman drama, Bull (12.9 million, 1.6 rating), which has fairly high viewership and a softer demo number (read: skews older). Bull has followed a more typical rating pattern so far (2.2 > 1.9 > 1.8). 

RELATED: This Is Us: Before They Were Stars

Bottom line: In fall season where the ratings for new broadcast shows have ranged from disappointing to fair to merely solid, This Is Us is looking like it could be the real deal. 

Also Tuesday: ABC’s new comedy American Housewife (former title: The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport) debuted fair given its lead-in, with 6.5 million and a 1.8 rating. The CW’s The Flash returned softer (2.7 million, 1.0) and new dramedy No Tomorrow sank in its second week (840,000, 0.3). 

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