‘NCIS’ Ratings Hit All-Time Low

Gary Cole as Special Agent Alden Parker in NCIS: Hawai'i

NCIS returned for its 20th season on Monday, September 19, and had its smallest same-day audience ever, down a massive 31 percent from the Season 19 premiere a year ago.

The premiere, which was a two-hour crossover with NCIS: Hawaiʻi, drew 5.82 million viewers and 0.42 rating in the 18-49 demographic, both series lows for the long-running CBS police procedural. Now fans are wondering if this drop could be due to fan favorite Mark Harmon leaving the show. Harmon, who played Leroy Jethro Gibbs, exited the series in the fourth episode of Season 19 and has since been removed from the opening credits. The show is now led by Gary Cole.

While the Harmon effect might have played some part, it’s important to note that Monday’s premiere went up against a double bill of Monday Night Football, with games running on ABC and ESPN/ESPN2, which resulted in lower viewers across the board on rival networks. It also had NBC’s much-hyped Quantum Leap reboot to deal with, which opened with 3.35 million viewers and a 0.48 rating among adults 18-49.

The crossover itself could also have had an impact on the lower numbers. As speculated by CarterMatt.com, not all viewers watch both shows, so the episode might not have been seen as essential. NCIS: Hawaiʻi premiered on CBS on September 20, 2021, and stars Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant, the Special Agent in charge of a team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

NCIS moved from Tuesdays to Mondays last fall, acting as a lead-in to the new Hawai’i franchise. Despite some concerns that this might negatively impact the ratings, the show still brought in the most viewers with its 2021 premiere, with 8.15 million tuning in. The ratings remained steady throughout the 19th season, even after Harmon’s departure.

Time will tell how the ratings hold up for Season 20.

NCIS, Mondays, 9/8c, CBS

NCIS: Hawai’i, Mondays, 10/9c, CBS