Person of Interest came on the CBS scene in one of the highest-expectation timeslots in primetime: the Thursday 9/8c perch occupied by former megahit CSI for over a decade. The premiere numbers were 13.33 million viewers and a 3.1 demo rating on 9/22/11, a barely passable rating considering it had a direct lead-in from The Big Bang Theory (which averaged a 5.1 demo at 8:30). But POI's lead-in was barely half that size when newbie How to Be a Gentleman premiered at 8:30 the next week. Person of Interest started to look much better by comparison, holding onto a 2.7 and 2.6 in the next two weeks. It would hold in that area for the rest of the fall, getting a bit of help as Gentleman gave way to Big Bang repeats and later Rules of Engagement.
Minor Growth on Thursday
The show picked up some steam in the always high-viewed winter months, surging to a new high 3.2 for its January return and getting as high as a 3.4 on 3/8/12. It held in the 3's almost every week until late April. Its final 122 Plus for the season was ahead of the last couple CSI seasons, though not by much. But it had a bad final month of the season and, even with a much improved lead-in from Two and a Half Men, was only able to put together a small sophomore bounce in its return to the hour in season two. It was up a bit year-to-year in the fall and down a bit in the second half of the season. Still, this was good for +15 points in Plus.
Though POI was one of CBS' biggest shows in the 9:00 hour, it got moved to the long-troubled Tuesday 10/9c slot for season three. Though it had never truly broken out on Thursday, this move was probably less about POI and more about the network's need to accommodate a heavy comedy development slate. Though it had a pretty good lead-in from NCIS: Los Angeles on Tuesday, it was never the same again, shedding nearly a third of its demo audience in the move and another 22% the next season. Still, this was enough to make season three CBS' biggest historical-adjusted player on Tuesday at 10:00 in the A18-49+ era. Even the middling season four numbers have only been topped in that slot a handful of times.
Person of Interest is getting another downgrade for season five, no longer on the fall schedule and with a reduced episode order. It's not entirely about ratings; if so, the WB-owned drama certainly could've beaten out other fall schedule choices like The Amazing Race and CBS-owned Elementary. But like with the Tuesday move two years ago, it just didn't stick out quite enough to force the network's hand in its favor.
Adults 18-49 info by season:
Historical-adjusted ratings by season:
The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.