Credit: ABC

UPDATE: That football pre-emption made a big impact: Castle ratings turned out steady with last fall’s premiere in the nationals. All the other ratings below are the same, though Scorpion improved a notch.

Rick Castle may be missing, but ABC’s Castle made its presence known on Monday night. The veteran procedural managed to rise in the ratings for its seventh season premiere despite heavy competition from NBC’s The Blacklist and the season premiere of NCIS: Los Angeles. Following up on last season’s cliffhanger, Castle returned to 11.3 million and a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49, up 9 percent from last fall. Moreover, this was Castle‘s biggest premiere rating in three years. One big caveat: These numbers could come down in the more accurate afternoon nationals since ABC was preempted in several markets by football (ABC has seen ratings stay the same in the nationals, or go down by as much as two tenths, so we’ll see).

Among the new dramas going anxiously into their second episodes , Gotham (7.3 million viewers, 2.8 adults 18-49 rating) fell 13 percent from its last week’s premiere. That’s considered standard second-week slippage, though networks always hope for greater retention. CBS’ Scorpion (13.2 million, 3.0) held up better—down only 7 percent despite having a Big Bang Theory repeat this week instead of an original episode as its lead-in. CBS must be pleased.

Their lead-outs didn’t fare so well. After returning down sharply from last fall, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow (5.1 million, 1.7) sunk a bit more at 9 p.m. While the return of CBS’ NCIS: LA (9.4 million, 1.9) at 10 p.m. was down 37 percent from its Tuesday premiere last year after the NCIS mothership (and basically delivered the same as the premiere of last year’s short-lived Hostages).

Also Monday: CBS’ Big Bang Theory (16.2 million, 4.7) topped the night but was down 13 percent from last week. NBC’s The Voice (12.7 million, 3.9) was steady and The Blacklist (10.7 million, 2.8) was down 18 percent.