ABC Says ‘Marvel’ Debut Led TV Ratings With Key Audience

Walt Disney Co.’s first ABC prime-time show based on the company’s Marvel comics opened as the top program in its time slot, drawing the largest audience in a key age group for the network.

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” premiering last night in the new TV season, led its timeslot in viewers ages 18 to 49, an age group sought by advertisers, and marked the highest-rated drama debut in almost four years, ABC said today in an e-mailed statement, citing preliminary Nielsen data.

ABC is using “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” to anchor Tuesday nights and draw more male viewers, a goal met with the premiere. The broadcaster finished in fourth place in the 18-to-49 age group last season. ABC hits including “Scandal” and “Dancing with the Stars,” are popular with women.

“We are super proud to be the No. 1 women’s 18-to-49 network, and a lot of our hits have incredibly empowered women in them,” ABC President Paul Lee said at an August event for television critics. “We’re also a broadcast network, so it’s absolutely incumbent on us to make sure that we bring in wider audiences beyond that.”

The Marvel show, airing at 8 most time zones, was the most-watched program of the night among all male viewers, the network said.

For the entire night, “S.H.I.E.L.D. tied with ‘‘The Voice’’ in audiences ages 18 to 49. The NBC singing competition aired over two hours.

Marvel Agent

CBS Corp.’s network led the evening in total viewers, averaging almost 16 million, with its long-running hit ‘‘NCIS’’ attracting 19.5 million, according to data supplied by the networks. NBC was second with 12.5 million, while ABC was third at 8.11 and Fox, owned by 21st Century Fox Inc., came in fourth with 3.7 million.

‘‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’’ stars Clark Gregg, who reprises his role as special agent Phil Coulson from the ‘‘Iron Man’’ and ‘‘Thor’’ films. The program revolves around an elite team of investigators who battle villains with the help of super heroes. The show is produced by Joss Whedon, who directed last year’s top-grossing movie, ‘‘Marvel’s The Avengers.”

ABC’s Tuesday lineup includes “The Goldbergs,” about a goofy family in the 1980s, and two other new shows, “Trophy Wife,” a comedy and “Lucky 7,” an hour-long drama about lottery winners.

Disney, based in Burbank, California, gained 0.2 percent to $64.45 at the close in New York. CBS, owner of the most-watched network, fell 1 percent to $55.52, while Comcast Corp., parent of NBC, declined similarly to $43.25. 21st Century Fox gained 0.4 percent to $32.67.

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