This Is Us ended the first half of its third season last night with another one of its patented cliffhangers, plus a twist NBC execs are no doubt less happy about: decidedly lower ratings. Per preliminary Nielsen data, Tuesday’s mid-season finale drew roughly 9 million viewers and averaged a 2.0 rating among the adults under 50 demographic group targeted by NBC’s advertisers. That’ll easily make it the least-watched of This Is Us’s three winter finales to date, coming in about 20 percent below the 10.9 million same-day viewers for the similar 2017 episode. In the key demo, the show will likely finish down around 25 percent. These numbers track with the overall performance of Us this season where, even with delayed viewing, ratings are down about 15 to 20 percent, depending on which metric you use. Given that Us spent a good chunk of 2017 growing its audience, it’s notable the series is now experiencing double-digit declines. But surprising or even worrisome to Peacock brass? Nope.
NBC execs aren’t freaking out over these not-optimal numbers for two big reasons: The show’s audience erosion is in line with similar Nielsen falloffs for TV’s other big comedies and serialized dramas, and even in its somewhat diminished state, Us is still on track to finish the 2018–19 TV season as the biggest drama on broadcast TV and, quite possibly, the No. 1 show on all of network TV. Season-to-date, Us is averaging a 4.2 rating in the key demo (DVR and Hulu replays add a lot to the show’s average), making it the only broadcast show this season above a 4.0 demo rating. The No. 2 series on network TV among adults under 50, CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, is currently at a 3.8 rating (and is also down about 20 percent versus last season). It’s possible TBBT could catch or pass Us if the former show’s series finale next spring does a massive number, but even if it does, NBC will still be left with what is, by far, the biggest drama hit on broadcast TV. What’s more, the still strong ratings for Us have helped make the show that follows it — new medical drama New Amsterdam — a solid hit, further underscoring the potency of the Pearsons for the Peacock. You can feel free to cry during This Is Us, but as of now, there’s no reason to cry for the show.