As we look at the numbers from Thursday night, there is one thing that stands out (rather unfortunately) more so than anything else: The state of the Chicago Fire season 6 lower ratings over at NBC.
What’s going on here? Well, let’s start with the reporting of the numbers themselves. Thursday night’s new episode, the second of the calendar year, drew a season-low 0.9 rating in the 18-49 demographic. It was just one year ago that Chicago Fire was the crown jewel of NBC’s One Chicago universe. Now, (at least in live viewing) it is lagging behind a resurgent Chicago Med and also Chicago PD … but does that have anything to do with the quality of the show or the storylines? CarterMatt would argue that it’s not related. The Chicago Fire ratings are perfectly emblematic of how much lead-ins matter, even in this era where there are so many different options for viewers that don’t necessarily require them to stick with one show and not check out any other.
One of the biggest problems with NBC’s Thursday night lineup right now is Great News — we understand that it has Tina Fey as an executive-producer plus a number of comedy icons in the cast, but that is a show that just isn’t working. Despite having an excellent lead-in courtesy of Will & Grace, the latest episode Thursday drew just a 0.6 rating. That’s a really tough audience to carry into Chicago Fire, and the NBC show is basically having to create its own audience rather than be reliant on anything that is being brought into it.
Here’s an interesting bit of cross-comparison — Chicago Med on Tuesday generated a far better rating in preliminary numbers (1.4), but it also had a lead-in courtesy of This Is Us that produced in total a 2.7 rating. Meanwhile, Chicago PD is the beneficiary of Law & Order: SVU, which for this past episode generated in total a 1.3 rating. Basically, Chicago Fire is facing an enormous disadvantage that neither of these other One Chicago shows are in terms of building a live audience.
Is Chicago Fire in any danger?
That’s doubtful. It feels like NBC moved the show to this spot knowing that they would lose viewers, but also improve their timeslot performance year-to-year. Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern has been a problem spot for years at the network.
For now, Thursday’s episode is partially an outlier — in addition to having a bad lead-in, this Chicago Fire special also aired opposite a Tonya Harding special over on ABC.
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