Ratings: ABC's Sunday Slate Goes Low

ABC’s drama problem is no laughing matter.

This Sunday, Once Upon a Time (with 3.4 million total viewers and a 1.0 demo rating per finals), Secrets and Lies (3.1 mil/0.7) and Quantico (2.8 mil/0.7) all ticked down to series lows. As such, six out of ABC’s seven non-Shonda Rhimes dramas this past week scored a 1.0 rating or lower. (Designated Survivor most recently netted a 1.6.)

Elsewhere on Sunday….

CBS | Pending any adjustment due to football delays, NCIS: Los Angeles (11.4 mil/1.7) is currently up 21 percent in the demo week-to-week, Madam Secretary (9 mil/1.1) is steady and Elementary (5.4 mil/0.8) ticked up from last week’s demo low.

NBC | Sunday Night Football (17.7 mil/6.0) was up 30 and 22 percent from last week’s finals.

FOX | Bob’s Burgers (3 mil/1.4) rose from its last fresh outing, while The Simpsons (3.4 mil/1.5), Son of Zorn (2.3 mil/1.0), Family Guy (2.5 mil/1.2) and Last Man on Earth (2.1 mil/0.9) were all down.

Cable ratings (e.g. The Walking Dead‘s Season 7 premiere) famously come in much, much later and as warranted are reported under separate cover.

Want scoop on any of the above shows? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. joe says:

    I think I was the only one watching Secrets and Lies live, The Walking Dead ran its course for me

    • Sy Snoodles says:

      Joe, itt was you and a ward of hospital ICU rooms with the TV left on. Ms. Dungey thanks the twelve of you for sticking around for Quantico, too!


    • Grey'sFan says:

      The solution for ABC seems simple enough — order more episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and have new ones air Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday every week. :)

      Also, in one of the TVline fall predictions it said Jo’s husband would be “a familiar face” — will #TWD and #Grey’sAnatomy do a crossover and Negan will turn out to be Denny’s twin brother and Jo’s husband?

    • The Beach says:

      I had to give up on secrets and lies. I just could no longer bear the bad acting and stank face expression that was constantly plastered on Juliette Lewis’ face the entire show.

  2. KayCeeCee says:

    Do you think that the Walking Dead premiere and the following Talking Dead event affected the 18-49 viewership in the network shows (particularly FOX and ABC)?
    It doesn’t seem to have hurt the CBS shows, but they don’t really cater for 18-49.
    Surprisingly, it also doesn’t seem to have hurt Sunday Night Football, which grew in 18-49.

    • TheloNaGrapso says:

      Would need to see the breakdown of the football game to say that. You could have watched the beginning, and then assuming one watched live, flip back and forth on commercials.

  3. Patrick says:

    So, ABC’s Sunday lineup is in trouble, yes? OUAT can be wrapped up this year, or maybe after one more, shortened final season. S&L and Quantico probably won’t be back next year. Both are relatively far away from syndication money, and Quantico at least has declined precipitously in quality, with no seeming direction forward. I can’t say the same about S&L, having not watched or followed this show. I just don’t see why or how ABC keeps these shows on the air next year.

    • F Lee Adama says:

      And if Priyanka is really pulling down a half mil an ep while the budget overall took a big cut year-to-year then… Ben Sherwood agrees with you.

  4. msstargate says:

    I totally forgot about Secrets and Lies last night! With NCIS LA starting late. It threw the whole night off. Normally i would have watched Secrets and Quantico.

  5. The growth of NCSI:LA on Sundays is impressive.

  6. Scott says:

    Wow, NCIS La is doing great, even better than they used to do on Mondays, but then again, im enjoying the story more this year than the last year, and have to say the people that thought NCIS la would lose against OUAT, oh boy, how they were wrong.

    • Eric says:

      I actually thought that it’d do much better in that timeslot since it’s coming off of football and there’s a lot less competition than there was at 10 PM Monday. It’ll be interesting to see what happens once football ends since that’s when Madame Secretary’s numbers in the same timeslot always seemed to drop.

      • Scott says:

        Yeah, but MS even with football never had these numbers in ratings, at least that i remember, was always around 1.2-1.0. I would say NCIS la without football may get around maybe 1.4/1.3, especially bc in spring that NBC kids show may return and they do great in ratings. Will be interesting to see the midseason numbers.

  7. JenE says:

    Re OUAT: perhaps the Regina overkill was a bad idea after all. And her delusional fanbase saying she would make the ratings climb significantly
    Lol.That and Emma and their complete disregard for character development

    • Rose says:

      I can’t stand Regina (or Lana for that matter) and they doubled her!!!! This season has been terrible bc of her.

    • Nicholas White says:

      If you even took the time to watch OUAT you would know Regina and the Evil queen has gotten the littlest screen time of all the main characters thus far this season. The main focus of this season isn’t even the Evil Queen it is like the 3rd big plot of OUAT right now. The main focus so far has been untold stories and Emma Savorior storyline. So LOL.

  8. Starbuck84 says:

    Secrets and Lies is definitley weaker than last season story-wise. Just can’t get into it this time. Never thought Quantio could work beyond the setup for their first season. But even if they are both worse than OUAT, I’m sure OUAT is more expensive to produce and if anything I think OUAT will get a short last season to wrap it up next year.

    Glad to hear Madam Secretary looks steady so far.

  9. MsBaseball34 says:

    I think an updated ratings system that takes into account DVR and online viewers is the only true way to gauge TV anymore. I am one of those annoying people who is never home during prime time, so that is the only way I can watch. That being said, I agree with the comments about Quantico. I’m letting it pile up on my DVR because the quality just isn’t there for me anymore.

    • F Lee Adama says:

      Um except b’cast networks are funded by advertisers. So when you mayyyybe get around to watching a couple weeks after it aired are you going to watch the ads that are now a couple weeks stale? Online views are “promotional” even when stacked by the networks and don’t pay talent or writers on first view or re-run… So how do the shows get paid there?

      Using the example of the nearly-departed Quantico — and I’d catch up quick with these ratings — ABC yanked it from Hulu (ads) in favor of stacking it to verified paid cable subs ($) and to Netflix.

      While there’s no law that says that ABC has to have scripted drama on the air, the whole business is still built on viewers watching ads. Do you watch the ads when you time shift your shows?

      • MsBaseball34 says:

        Actually, I do watch most of the ads. I agree with you on the advertisers, but perhaps TV execs need to get creative on how they pay for these shows. Product placement making a comeback wouldn’t be the worst idea.

        • F Lee Adama says:

          Good for you, seriously.

          As far as product placement, that is presently called integration and every TV show for the last 5 to 7 years that can get integration money is getting it, trust. Watch those credit rolls v carefully!

      • jb says:

        They need to get with the times, and quit selling in your face commercials that nobody watches anyways , and use product placement and unobtrusive banner ads for revenue.

        also, I’m surprised that they haven’t hooked in hot links to the credits for instant online purchasing in the streamable content, *maybe even for the downloadable stuff. so if you like an outfit, or product you see, you can instantly purchase it with a click of the mouse.

    • jj says:

      F Lee Adama has a point. The goal isn’t to measure how many people watch the show, the goal is to measure how many people watch the ads. Selling ads is one of the main ways that networks make money to finance their shows.

  10. Once Upon says:

    Once Upon A Time: well if they would stop with this repetetive Regina & EvilQueen OVERKILL maybe people would tune in more.
    They should focus more on what people actually want to see like Emma’s & Hook’s characters getting more screentime and a proper development of their characters and their love-story not always just baby-steps.

    • Rose says:

      ^^So much this!
      I want Hook and Emma’s love story – cute little moments,bed scenes – god they are the only couple we never saw doing it! Hello–They are hot as hell !!!
      I want them in adventures,working together- Season 3 finale was amazing for them,after that — not so much.

      • Nicky Aiuto says:

        Forget the CS sillyness, it already lost alot of ratings last season because the general audience did not like it and don’t care. What we may need is more focus on the Charmings and a little more charming Family time, including friends and allies we have not seen much from like:

        The Seven Dwarfs

        Red Riding Hood



        Jiminy Cricket



        Huntsman (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Huntsman’s Wolf


        Dr. Frankenstein





        Gus the Mouse (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Prince Henry (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        King Midas

        Baelfire/Neal (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Hansel & Gretel

        Hansel & Gretel’s Father

        Stealthy (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Sir Maurice

        Nurse Ratched

        Chief the Mop Patient









        The Dragon (if he is still alive)

        Tinker Bell




        Dorothy Gale


        Merlin (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        The Apprentice (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        King Arthur (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Queen Guinevere

        Sir Percival (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)


        Sir Morgan


        Hercules (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Meg (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)







        Merida’s Brothers

        Queen Elinor

        Fergus (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        The Witch from Brave

        The United Clans

        Black Knights

        Magic Mirror/Sydney Glass



        King George

        Prince James (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Blind Witch (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Gaston (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Cora (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Sheriff of Nottingham

        Peter Pan (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Flying Monkeys


        Ingrid (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Bo Peep

        Prince Hans

        Cruella De Vil (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Isaac Heller (so that we can watch Lily kill him off for what he did to her)

        Nimue and the Dark Ones (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Hades (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Dr. Jekyll (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Mr. Hyde (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Sir Mordred (in either flashbacks or alternate timeline)

        Lady Tremaine

        • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

          Hysterical. I could chip away at this list point by point (August and the Sheriff of Nottingham are coming back, Leroy this season has had more screen time than ever…), but I have to prep for today’s ratings report and such.

    • jj says:

      The biggest issue with Once Upon a Time is how fractured the audience is. You have majors shippers going on who hate other elements/characters of the show. Consequently, the writers can’t possibly win and make everyone happy. So ultimately, it leads to all of the shippers feeling frustrated.

      • Starbuck84 says:

        Which is why OUAT made a huge mistake when the writers made it more and more about pleasing shippers. For the first couple of seasons the show was so much bigger than that in its overall story and dynamic, but since season 4 it’s been nothing but shipper pandering in one way or another with some Disney brand thrown in between for FTL scenes.
        So yeah, sorry to those who commented above, but I can’t possibly take people serious who think it’s focusing on one relationship or one or two specific characters more that would suddenly make the show and its ratings oh so great again. That’s just wishful thinking, in my experience ratings don’t work like that.

  11. kate says:

    There were probably a lot of people who had this debate in their house, which went the other way than it did in mine, would a little Aladdin story feel at all non congruous with the Walking Dead at 9? I opted that it didn’t, so I watch that and Quantico, but I could understand if people wanted to watch the season finale then just stayed on AMC. I must admit, going forward, and it has been hard today, I am probably going to be saving Quantico because I am going to go back to watching Westworld live at 9 because I have to squeeze it in tonight and then watch the Walking Dead as I recorded it. I believe that is how I watched it when it was ever on against Game of Thrones. I don’t know why but if I don’t watch the HBO show which isn’t on my scheduled recording, I am apt to forget about it.

  12. Carla Krae says:

    ABC will probably improve after football is over.

  13. I’m not that worried about OUAT because broadcast networks are down across the board and they aren’t gonna cancel everything.

  14. Maryanne says:

    Once this year is just repetitive storyline for all the characters and the Regina EQ is not helping at all.
    I more focus on others character and her plot is stupid she (the EQ) is a mean girl who want everyone to be at each others throat.
    Boring, cartoonist and Childish!!

  15. DarkDefender says:

    Cancelling Castle instead of renewing it and moving it to Sunday’s now looks like a missed opportunity.

  16. Boiler says:

    I think Ms. Dungey cancelled the wrong shows, and I like OUAT. She has one hit and a bunch of flops, new and old. Looks like she has no clue. A retooled Nashville and a Castle with Beckett would easily beat most of the stuff.

  17. jj says:

    Why these shows are still on air is beyond me. They all sucks.

  18. Sandie D says:

    I love OUAT. The problem I see with this season is that there is to much going on for me. I still watch it and will continue since I have watched it from the beginning of time. I just wish they would have stayed away with all these new visitors from the Land of Untold Stories.

  19. kmw says:

    Not a surprise about ABC shows at all especially with The Walking Dead on last night but I also think these shows would have been hitting these numbers any way. ABC really is having a tough time this fall. Hopefully these drops wont continue but these numbers are discouraging. I am surprised that the football was up given the snoozefest it was from the start. I hope CBS numbers stay

  20. Aeol says:

    I’ve never watched the walking dead, it’s just not a show for me. Not into zombies. OUAT ran its course years ago for me. Quantico lost me halfway through last season and I find Priyanka Chopra to be insufferable and self-absorbed in real life, so watching her fling her hair around every Sunday night doesn’t work for me. I watch S&L because I have a friend who is a regular, but she’s also on another show. Now that I’m in my mid to late thirties, I guess it makes sense that Madame Secretary is must see Tv for me lol.

  21. Lauren says:

    I’m a big TV watcher, with a wide range of shows that I like, but there honestly currently isn’t a single show that appeals to me on Sunday on any network… including football.

  22. Paloma says:

    Madam Secretary was very topical with the Internet connected household appliances getting hacked. I have a few wifi lightbulbs at my house, too. I knew there were Internet connected refrigerators, but I didn’t know until I watched this show on Sunday night that there were net connected ovens, and apparently there are also dishwashers. Isn’t that getting a bit silly? Do you really need to check in on your dishwasher’s status from anywhere in the world? And while the show did not have a DoS attack using the McCord family’s internet of things, it was very topical to get their whole house hacked.

  23. Nero tTVfiddler says:

    In the ‘look for the silver-lining’ category, at least Quantico didn’t lose any of its lead-in demo of 0.7 from S&L. Small consolation, but something for ABC to consider.

    In this instance, it is worth looking at what Elementary on CBS is doing at 10 Sunday. It got an 0.8 in the demo. For Quantico, it is one thing to not be doing well in the 10pm Sunday slot; it is another to be coming in third place at 10pm in a three horse race. That is problematic, although with OUAT leading off the night with 3.35m/1.0, it is an uphill battle for Quantico to deliver decent numbers.

    If ABC is going to move the show, sooner is probably better. Once the numbers fall below a certain level, it is hard to get the viewers back, and then it may be too late to move the show and expect the numbers to change radically.

    • F Lee Adama says:

      Ratings relative to other shows on the same network are what matters. The horse race is the horse race; “winning” the time slot among the networks isn’t how networks decide to renew. The horse race is therefore covered by industry journalists (and not critics) warily.

      Ratings go down when shows move slots/nights. Ratings for shows from fall into spring go down, not up.

  24. einat162 says:

    Karma is a b*tch, ABC.

  25. I’m actually loving the new night/timeslot for NCIS: LA. I don’t watch anything live that comes on at 10:00 because I need to sleep. Watching it live on Sunday nights is a wonderful thing! Thank you CBS :)

  26. Anthony C. says:

    I used to love watching television live, especially ABC and CBS, until the endless pop-ups, banners, countdown time clocks, next up or coming up promotions and other distracting graphics started appearing. ABC is the absolute worst violator. I don’t bother watching any of their programs live or even on my DVR. I wait until eight days have passed since the original airing so that I can watch the program in peace (plus without many commercials). Maybe I am in the minority, but with the increased amount of subscriptions to streaming services, I would suggest that all the annoying graphics of broadcast and cable television is having an adverse effect on viewership and ratings. Totally unrelated though is that “Quantico” never answered the major continuity error in its first season as to how Natalie graduated from training in enough time to be on staff at the FBI by the time the first bomb in the series premiere/pilot blew up. Lastly, I have also stopped watching all Shondaland programs, because her characters are all selfish, despicable and repulsive in their words and actions. I am not the only one. The ratings for “How To Get Away With Murder” have also bottomed out this current season.

    Karma’s a bitch, ABC. Now, you are reaping what you have sown.

  27. Ally Oop says:

    I keep watching Quantico wishing they’d quit the stupid flashbacks and knowing they won’t. This show could be good if they kept the characters but changed the format of the story. I really like the characters as they are well-developed but every time the story starts to get good, all suspense built up evaporates because we go back in time. The show needs an overhaul. I hope the show runner or producers are reading all the online comments and changing tactics mid season.

    • F Lee Adama says:

      “I hope the show runner or producers are reading all the online comments”

      Aww! <3

      No. That's not a thing. That's not how TV works.

  28. Shar says:

    OUAT should really be wrapped up this year provided it isn’t cancelled first, there is a serious problem with the writing on this show, and it is no longer a draw to fans new or existing.