The NCIS Season 20 Episode 2 ratings are in, and they reveal a slightly more positive outcome than the season opener suggested.
The Sept. 26th episode saw the audience grow to 5.9 million, which was a slight jump from Episode 1’s lackluster response.
When the series returned earlier this month it only brought in 5.82 million viewers—which is an all-time low. The 18-49 demographic also only rated 0.42, which also set a dismal record.
NCIS Season 20 debuted with some heavy competition, however. ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and Monday Night Football all aired NFL matchups at the same time. Subsequently, every show that played against the games suffered lower than average ratings. Though, the NCIS audience has been shrinking for years.
‘NCIS’ Ratings Have Been Slipping For Years
The long-running crime drama first hit CBS in 2003 as a JAG spinoff. And it instantly became one of the network’s most popular series. For six consecutive years, NCIS landed in the top five most-watched series. And in its prime, it drew an average of 18 to 20 million viewers each week.
However, the then Mark Harmon-led show began to slide during season 15. And it has been on a consistent decline ever since.
In 2020, NCIS made its first major tumble when it premiered with only 10 million viewers. Last year, it slipped to 8.5 million. So the 2022 ratings aren’t showing a lot of promise.
Harmon is likely one reason behind the most recent drop. The actor had played fan-favorite character Leroy Jethro Gibbs since the pilot. And after a year of admitting his hopes of retiring, he made an official exit in Season 19’s Great Wide Open.
After leaving, ratings struggled but stayed consistent as fans held out hope that Harmon would return. Because Harmon remained in the opening credits as the top-billed actor, people believed he would appear in a cameo or two. But that never happened, and what’s worse is that Season 20 opened with new credits that don’t mention Harmon at all.
While the 70-year-old star continues to work with NCIS as an executive producer, Timothy McGee’s Sean Murray took his place in the credits. And now it’s possible that people have lost interest in the story.
Neither Mark Harmon nor the creators have confirmed Agent Gibbs’ future status, but they have teased that the exit left an opening for his return. So it is possible that he could still make a surprise appearance in the future, especially since the actor is still working on the set. But for now, fans who are still tuning in will have to enjoy Gary Cole’s Aldean Parker standing in his place.
Catch the series on CBS every Tuesday at 8 PM.