The Endemol Shine Australia-produced NCIS: Sydney debuted on CBS this week to strong ratings.
One of the headlines after the Tuesday night US series launch commented: ‘NCIS: Sydney Is Fall’s Most-Watched Debut, Fuels CBS’ Best Tuesday of the Season’.
Although it’s early days for the latest NCIS spin-off, if these numbers stick viewers could be in for a longer season.
NCIS: Sydney was launched at a flashy ceremony on the edge of Sydney Harbour last Friday night on the same day Australian viewers could watch series one, episode one on Paramount+.
All the cast for the new series from Australia and the US were on hand, with the exception of William McInnes who was unable to make the launch event.
CBS brass who made the trip to Sydney for the important new global property included President & CEO, CBS and Chief Content Officer, News & Sports, Paramount+, George Cheeks and President, Broadcast & Studios International Paramount, Maria Kyriacou.
Speaking at the launch event, President & CEO, CBS and Chief Content Officer, News & Sports, Paramount+, George Cheeks told guests: “We are here to celebrate the newest addition to the world’s most successful television franchise. The NCIS universe has been the cornerstone of the CBS schedule. The most incredible thing about NCIS is its ability to capture audiences of all ages – even in this fragmented media landscape.
“Each NCIS series is always a top performer on CBS where these days the audience is a little bit older. However, these shows also sit at the top of the charts for streaming whether on Paramount+ or Netflix where the audience on average is decades younger.
“In looking to expand the NCIS universe, Sydney was the perfect backdrop for our first international version. When you watch the show you will see this dynamic, vibrant, beautiful city is more than just a location – it’s a character in the series.
“The DNA of NCIS is heart, humour, and compelling storytelling. It’s a family dynamic both in front of and behind the camera.
“There are so many people that got us to this exciting moment tonight. Beverley, Paramount+ and Network 10 teams, your amazing collaboration from day one was instrumental in turning this dream into a reality. Vice Admiral Hammond and all our partners at the Royal Australian Navy we are eternally grateful for the access and council you gave this production. It brought scale and authenticity.
“And we are lucky to have Endemol Shine Australia as our producing partner – the best of the best.
“To Morgan, Sarah, Sue and the entire crew and creative teams, you have done such a phenomenal job bringing to life what makes NCIS so special while also making NCIS: Sydney unique and distinct in its own right.
“And to the amazing cast, who I had the pleasure to spend some time with yesterday. Fans love their NCIS characters and now you are part of this universe. Please enjoy the ride.”
Sydney Harbour sizzles for US viewers
Ratings commentary about the US debut included:
The Stateside premiere of NCIS: Sydney on CBS drew 5.6 million total viewers and a 0.3 demo rating on Tuesday night (per Nielsen finals), making it the most-watched series debut of the 2023-24 TV season thus far.
The NCIS franchise’s first international offering in turn led CBS to its most-watched Tuesday of the fall, with 3 million viewers — a surge of 34% week-to-week (when Big Brother opened the night) and +21% versus this season’s Tuesday average.
Paramount did say that streaming for NCIS: Sydney on digital platforms (Paramount+ and the CBS app) was up 71% in average audience from the Season 2 premiere of NCIS: Hawaii last fall. This is a good indication that the series has attracted the attention of the NCIS audience, and possibly beyond.
The NCIS properties are hugely popular for CBS and generally provide solid audiences each week, even amid overall declining broadcast viewership.
Also present at the launch event in Sydney was Endemol Shine Australia showrunner Morgan O’Neill. Speaking with New York-based Paramount director of content, marketing Nicole Bitette, O’Neill was asked about the Australian production’s international appeal:
“There’s a strong demand in the international TV marketplace for stories that tell local stories authentically, and we’ve worked hard to ensure that our portrayal is both enlightening and reflective of life down under. We also have the advantage that Australia seems to hold a special allure to the rest of the world. Whether it’s our geographic remoteness, our plethora of things that can kill you, our remarkable First Nations history of 65,000 years of uninterrupted existence, or our easy-going nature, people from all over the world seem fascinated by our country. NCIS: Sydney offers them a portal into our neck of the woods within a familiar framework that they know and love. Seems to me we have all the ingredients to deliver a show that resonates strongly with an international audience.”
Who’s who at the NCIS: Sydney global launch event
The NCIS: Sydney cast, Olivia Swann (NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey), Todd Lasance (Sergeant Jim “JD” Dempsey), Sean Sagar (NCIS Special Agent, DeShawn Jackson), Tuuli Narkle (AFP Liaison Officer, Constable Evie Cooper), and Mavournee Hazel (AFP Forensic Scientist, Bluebird ‘Blue’ Gleeson), arrived at the launch event in style on board a luxury superyacht. Joining the cast were Executive Vice President, Chief Content Officer & Head of Paramount+ Paramount ANZ, Beverley McGarvey; EVP, Chief Operating & Commercial Officer & Regional Lead Paramount ANZ, Jarrod Villani; President & CEO, CBS and Chief Content Officer, News & Sports, Paramount+, George Cheeks; President, CBS Studios, David Stapf; and President, Broadcast & Studios International Paramount, Maria Kyriacou, Head of Drama and Executive Production at Paramount ANZ, Rick Maier.
Celebrating with cast and Paramount executives were the Endemol Shine Australia Executive Producers of NCIS: Sydney, Sara Richardson, Sue Seeary and Michele Bennett, including creator Morgan O’Neill.
Other distinguished guests on the night included representatives from the real NCIS, Australian Federal Police, and Royal Australian Navy.
Network 10’s Angela Bishop hosted the night, interviewing Paramount Global executives George Cheeks and David Stapf; Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond AO, NCIS: Sydney Executive Producer/Creator Endemol Shine Australia Morgan O’Neill and cast Olivia Swann and Todd Lasance, in front of media, network personalities, social media influencers and industry guests.