Once one of the biggest shows on TV, CBS’ killer drama Criminal Minds entered Season 14 on shaky legs, with CBS waiting until late in the game to renew the series for a shortened run. Now, that season has started up alongside the other big fall debuts, and it’s arguably more obvious than ever that Criminal Minds is on its last legs, bringing in series-low stats in both viewership and the demo rating.
The season premiere, titled “300,” was watched by 4.45 million people, which is easily the smallest group of people who have ever tuned in for a Criminal Minds episode. The previous series low was for the Season 13 episode “Annihilator,” which had a 5.04-million-strong audience. Before now, no other installments had ever amassed fewer than 5 million viewers before, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season, considering the premieres are often the most-watched episodes.
To be fair, Criminal Minds did have some pretty stout competition from NBC, which used Wednesday night to air its giant “One Chicago Crossover” event between its trio Chicago Fire, Chicago Med and Chicago P.D. The latter, which aired in the same time slot as CBS’ crime drama, brought in 7.78 million viewers, which was the lowest total of the three Dick Wolf series, but was still obviously better than Criminal Minds‘ stats. ABC’s new drama A Million Little Things was in third place at that time, with just 3.79 million total viewers. And to its credit, the BAU team also attracted more eyeballs than Fox’s Star and ABC’s Single Parents.
However, A Million Little Things did manage to win out over Criminal Minds in the key age demographic department, according to TVByTheNumbers. The CBS drama faced another series low here, earning a 0.7 demo rating, which is as terrible a sign for its future as anything else. Though Criminal Minds has always skewed older with viewers, even the previously mentioned “Annihilator” managed to rope in a 0.9 demo rating. Seal Team barely topped it with a 0.8 rating (with 5.02 million viewers), but the only programming that fared worse in that stat was The CW’s Burden of Truth finale and a Supergirl repeat.
The Season 14 premiere wrapped up the events from the cliffhanger finale, which saw Garcia taken hostage while Reid was tasked with an impossible request, so it speaks to the show’s pop culture status that so few people tuned in. Criminal Minds showrunner Erica Messer is hopeful to keep the drama going on CBS for as long as possible, and has many more ideas for all of these characters. But I think we can all agree that the audience needs to match up with its former heights in order for CBS to be confident in Criminal Minds‘ chances of doing better than a new project.
Criminal Minds airs Wednesday nights on CBS at 10:00 p.m. ET. Be sure to keep watching to give the show a better shot at reaching Season 15. And when needing some other form of escapism to dive into, hit up our fall TV premiere schedule.