'Designated Survivor,' 'This is Us' remain TV's most-praised newcomers

Remakes of MacGyver, Lethal Weapon and The Exorcist rebounded last week as the new fall TV crop's most conversation-sparking shows. But two original series — ABC's Designated Survivor and NBC's This Is Us — drew the most favorable comments, followed by NBC comedy The Good Place, a distant third.

Those are the latest findings in an ongoing study by Engagement Labs' Keller Fay Group for the week ended Oct. 16, shared exclusively with USA TODAY. The New Jersey researcher is polling viewers about which shows they're talking about offline, and scraping data from social-media networks to gauge online chatter, with decidedly different results.

Online, This Is Us regained the top spot last week, swapping places with NBC's Timeless.  New at No. 4: ABC's American Housewife, which premiered last week, though viewers spoke less positively about it than most other new shows. (It entered the offline chart at No. 9.) ABC's Conviction and CBS' Kevin Can Wait were among the shows generating less talk compared with the previous week. CBS shows, which skew to an older audience, accounted for three of the most talked-about new shows offline last week, but none of them ranked among the top 10 in terms of online chatter.

Four weeks into the season, "we're starting to see the shows level off a bit" as viewing habits gel, says Keller Fay research manager George Noble III. And while Lethal has "stayed pretty consistent" in positive feedback, MacGyver and The Exorcist have found less praise as weeks go by, a finding also reflected in their ratings.

The least positive chatter has centered on Housewife and Timeless, which dropped from the previous week, when they premiered, suggesting "advance buzz was positive, but when people actually got a chance to watch, they weren't that impressed," Noble says.

The survey says about half of Americans talked about one or more new shows last week, almost evenly split between men and women. The offline survey is based on a statistically representative sample of 700 Americans ages 13 to 69. The online data is derived from social-media networks, blogs and forums. In all, 17 of fall's 20 new shows had premiered as of last week. Three remaining series, all on CBS, are due next week.

Top 10 most talked-about new TV shows

Offline …

1. MacGyver (CBS)  10.4
2. Lethal Weapon (Fox)  8.6
3. The Exorcist (Fox)   3.0
4. Kevin Can Wait (CBS)  11.3
5. Bull (CBS)  17.3
6. This Is Us (NBC) 9.9
7. Designated Survivor (ABC)  11.8
8. Timeless (NBC)  6.9
9. American Housewife (ABC)  6.6
10. The Good Place (NBC) 5.9

… and online

1. This Is Us (NBC) 9.9
2. Timeless (NBC)  6.9
3. Designated Survivor (ABC)  11.8
4. American Housewife (ABC)  6.6
5. Lethal Weapon (Fox)  8.6
6. Pitch (Fox) 4.7
7. Conviction (ABC)  4.7
8. Frequency (CW) 1.2
9. Notorious (ABC) 5.8
10. Speechless (ABC) 7.6

Week ending Oct. 16, 2016. Top-ranked shows based on offline and online conversation volume, with season-to-date viewership in millions. Sources: Keller Fay Group, Nielsen


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