When Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. picked its timeslot, there was a lot of discussion about the fact that it would be in direct competition with the highly-rated niche procedural show NCIS.
Since S.H.I.E.L.D. is also a niche procedural show, the logic went, the two might be fighting over some of the same turf and it could be interesting to see whether the hot new show with all the hype could overcome the veteran for which people's viewing habits were already pretty well established.
Then last week happened--Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted with the highest-rated drama premiere of the season and won the night easily. A re-run scheduled for two nights later was a pretty big hit, too.
Yesterday, though, a special episode of NCIS (the farewell to a long-running character) trumped Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which took a 34% tumble from the previous week's ratings.
Obviously, a drop from the pilot is expected, but 34% is pretty hefty. The Blacklist, James Spader's NBC series and the previous "highest-rated drama premiere of 2013" until S.H.I.E.L.D. came along, dropped by a small fraction of that (around 10%) from its first week to its second.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still in good shape, since the initial numbers were high enough that a one-time drop of a third won't be devastating. The rest of the ABC lineup, though, isn't so lucky; after strong debuts, comedies The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife dropped 29% and 39% respectively--and Lucky 7, which didn't debut particularly strong, dropped 38% and is likely in serious danger of cancellation. Across the board, only Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. still looks good after that precipitous drop; the comedies debuted strong, but not so strong they could afford to drop like that.