ABC’s new Shonda Rhimes–produced crime caper The Catch opened to decidedly modest ratings Thursday. Following weeks of promotion, and a hands-on makeover from Rhimes herself, the Mireille Enos–Peter Krause vehicle snagged a respectable 5.8 million same-day viewers, edging out its 10 p.m. time slot drama rival Shades of Blue (5 million) on NBC and just above last week’s season finale of TGIT teammate How to Get Away With Murder. Among the adults-over-50 demographic, however, The Catch only managed a 1.2 rating. That’s down a bit from recent installments of HTGAWM — and a whopping 40 percent below what the opening episode of American Crime averaged a year ago in the same post-Scandal time slot. It would be wrong, however, to blame the year-to-year decline entirely on audience reaction to The Catch.
In March 2015, Scandal was a much hotter show, notching a 3.0 demo rating on the night Crime premiered. Last night? Scandal — up against NCAA basketball coverage on CBS — averaged barely half the young-adult audience (1.6 rating). So even though The Catch drew a decidedly smaller audience than American Crime, it held on to a larger portion (75 percent) of its Scandal lead-in than Crime (66 percent). As disappointing as the early ratings are for The Catch, the bigger problem for ABC is that the once red-hot Scandal has cooled down so much in such a short amount of time. Still, it’s also worth noting that ABC series — and Rhimes’s shows in particular — tend to do very, very well in delayed viewing. Last week’s HTGAWM season finale nearly doubled its demo ratings within three days, jumping from a 1.4 rating to a 2.6 once DVR replays were tallied. If The Catch fits that pattern, this morning’s meh Nielsen report card won’t look so bad. And if they don’t? Well, Rhimes is already working on a couple of other shows for the network.