1) It's a science show. That a science show was on a prime time broadcast network - and took third place in its premiere - I would say is bordering on miraculous.
2) The overnights for "Cosmos" showed more viewers watched it than watched either "Family Guy" or "The Simpsons". "Family Guy" is, of course, "Cosmos" producer Seth MacFarlane's keystone program. Ordinarily it would be the lead-in and anything following would show some drop. Instead, "Cosmos" had more viewers than those longtime fan favorites.
"The Simpsons" had just over 4 million viewers, Family Guy had almost 4.6 million and "Cosmos" was 4.91 million, down from 5.8 million the week prior. Yes, it was fourth this week. But Fox was fourth in every single time slot. A recap of "The Voice", so basically a repeat, got twice as many viewers as Fox did in its timeslot. That can't be blamed on "Cosmos".
"Bob's Burgers" - now that is a disaster. But it doesn't get on the front page of The Drudge Report every week when it is clobbered.
Where "Cosmos" dropped was adults 18-49, to 1.9, which might make Fox a little worried. But it was the same as "The Simpsons" and there is no way "Cosmos" costs as much as "The Simpsons" at this point. They even had an advertisement for "Noah" on "Cosmos", you can bet that was found money.
Plus, those numbers might go up. Once DVR views were factored in, the adult 18-49 rating for "Cosmos" last week jumped 33%, from a 2.1 to a 2.8. If a similar DVR bump happens this week, then suddenly "Cosmos" is number two in its time slot for the demographic advertisers prize most.
And "Cosmos" is more of an international product than other shows it is competing with - it could get 3-6X its total viewers when international numbers come in, and that all brings revenue too.
Some drop off is expected. Some people won't like that it is not the original "Cosmos", some people will think it is too much like the original "Cosmos", some will not like that militant atheists are using it to attack religion and think that is the point of the show. Some will think it is not complex enough.
But analyzed empirically, it was a terrible night for most of the networks. All of ABC's shows dropped from the week before, and the NBC competitor to "Cosmos" plummeted 50 percent its premiere. In that light, "Cosmos" looks pretty darn good.