No Ratings Glitter for CBS’ Golden Boy

Special premiere of midseason cop drama delivers lackluster ratings

A special premiere of CBS’ midseason cop show Golden Boy showed little luster Tuesday night, drawing 10.6 million viewers and an unremarkable 1.8 rating in the 18-49 demo.

According to preliminary Nielsen estimates, while Golden Boy improved on the 1.5 rating time slot occupant Vegas posted last week, the newcomer also lost a lot of ground as the hour wore on. After opening to 11.4 million viewers and a 2.0, the premiere lost nearly 2 million viewers and 20 percent of its demo deliveries in the final half-hour.

CBS guarantees against the adults 25-54 demo. By that benchmark, Golden Boy put up a 2.7 rating, up 13 percent from the 2.4 Vegas delivered on Feb. 19.

Despite an enviable lead-in—Golden Boy bowed out of NCIS: Los Angeles, which drew 17 million viewers, a 2.9 rating among adults 18-49 and a 4.2 in CBS’s dollar demo—the rookie series retained only 64 percent of the previous hour’s target demo.

Lukewarm deliveries aside, Golden Boy still made short work of its 10 p.m. competition, out-distancing ABC’s Body of Proof (6.37 million viewers, 1.2 rating) and NBC’s imperiled Smash (3.04 million, 0.9).

After one additional Tuesday night airdate, Golden Boy on March 8 will move to its regular Friday 9 p.m. slot, where it replaces CSI: NY. CBS opened the season with the legal drama Made in Jersey occupying the time slot; two episodes into its run, the freshman series was yanked after averaging 7.3 million viewers and a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo.

Of the 14 new dramas launched by the Big Four in the course of the 2012-13 season, Golden Boy has put up the fifth-smallest 18-49 rating. Only NBC’s Do No Harm (0.9), Made in Jersey (1.1), ABC’s Zero Hour (1.4) and Fox’s The Mob Doctor (1.5) fared worse in their respective debuts.

Per SQAD NetCosts data, the average unit cost for a 30-second spot in Golden Boy is $76,000—on par with what CBS charges for time in Blue Bloods, the show’s 10 p.m. Friday lead-out.

As the most-watched, highest-rated network, CBS’ ratings threshold is a lot less forgiving than those of its competitors. For example, NBC’s Chicago Fire bowed to 6.61 million viewers and a 1.9 in the demo, but because the show is hanging tough in its Wednesday 10 p.m. perch—the three February sweeps episodes averaged a 1.9 rating—the firehouse drama is all but certain to be renewed.

Another program of note was ABC’s premiere of Celebrity Wife Swap, which took second place in the 8 p.m. hour behind CBS’ NCIS. The third cycle of the unscripted series drew a personal best 2.4 in the demo, while the NCIS juggernaut put up the night’s biggest numbers (20.7 million viewers, 3.4/5.1 demos).

Lastly, the CW’s Cult continued to underwhelm at 9 p.m., drawing 820,000 viewers and a 0.3 in the 18-34 demo.