The long-running CBS procedural has been the top off-network show on cable in recent weeks, with two episodes last week even outdrawing an NFL game to rank among the top 25 shows in total viewers.
The Monday edition of “NCIS,” which airs weeknights on USA Network at 7 p.m., averaged 4.17 million total viewers, ranking 12th for the week ended Nov. 30 on basic cable and easily the top off-network show. That’s according to Nielsen data analyzed by Disney networks.
Wednesday’s “NCIS” averaged 3.96 million viewers, ranking 22nd overall, and both episodes ranked among the top 10 with adults 25-54 for the week.
Like “L&O” at its cable peak three or four years ago, “NCIS” episodes often top 3 million households, and at a time when the original “L&O” is fading on TNT. Last week its most-watched episode averaged 2.4 million viewers, ranking 192nd on cable, according to Nielsen.
There are several reasons for “NCIS’s” cable popularity, and one is that the show has been growing on broadcast. It’s hit series highs in total viewers this season and vaulted into the top five programs on television.
Many who just started watching the six-year-old program are no doubt eager to catch up on repeats, mirroring similar patterns seen for other off-network shows over the years. USA’s “House,” for example, pulls very strong ratings among 18-49s, the same demo that discovered the show after “American Idol” and wanted to catch up on early episodes.
Too, USA’s strong overall schedule has undoubtedly helped “NCIS.”
The network ranked No. 2 across every major demographic during November and saw slight growth in each category, with wrestling continuing to perform well along with the network’s stable of original, character-driven programs.
Finally, the success of “NCIS” also reflects a trend being seen elsewhere on television this fall as recession fears eat away at viewers and they search for something comforting to distract them. Procedurals and traditional sitcoms have been doing well on broadcast and in syndication.
The “NCIS” team usually catches the bad guy and ties up every loose end by the show’s finish, and that’s exactly what viewers are searching for right now.
Source: MediaLife, December 4, 2008