NEW YORK (AP) -- Nielsen's first "most likely to succeed" list is out, and it includes Michael Weatherley, Mandy Moore, Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin James.
They are among the stars in new series that performed well during the first week of the new TV season, the Nielsen company said. The best performer was "Bull," CBS' series starring Weatherley as a trial consultant in a story loosely based on Dr. Phil McGraw's life. Its audience of 15.6 million made it the most-watched debut of the week.
Moore is in the ensemble cast of NBC's "This is Us," and James in the CBS comedy "Kevin Can Wait," which both finished among Nielsen's Top 25 for their debuts.
All three series, however, had the advantage of following more popular returning series on the schedule: CBS' "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory," and NBC's "The Voice." That's the television equivalent of beginning a 100-yard dash 50 yards ahead of your opponent.
Sutherland's critically acclaimed "Designated Survivor" on ABC, however, was the only one of the four newcomers to gather a bigger audience than the show immediately preceding it on the schedule. ABC's "black-ish" had 6.4 million viewers for its premiere, and "Designated Survivor" followed it with more than 10 million - a positive sign that many viewers specifically sought it out.
After finishing the summer months behind NBC in the ratings, CBS returned to the top spot last week. It also was the only one of the top four networks to gain in viewers compared to the first week of the 2015 season.
CBS averaged 11.2 million viewers in prime time for premiere week. NBC had 8.7 million, and won among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic sought by advertisers. ABC had 5.9 million, Fox had 3.6 million, Telemundo had 1.7 million, Univision had 1.6 million, ION Television had 1.1 million and the CW had 900,000.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 3.19 million people in prime time. Fox News Channel ad 2.33 million, TNT had 1.8 million, TBS had 1.44 million and HGTV had 1.31 million.
ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.2 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" had 8 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.7 million.
For the week of Sept. 19-25, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Chicago at Dallas, NBC, 20.62 million; NFL Football: Houston at New England, CBS, 17.55 million; "NCIS," CBS, 16 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 15.82 million; "Bull," CBS, 15.57 million; "NFL Pregame," NBC, 15.41 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 14.36 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 12.29 million; NFL Football: Philadelphia at Chicago, ESPN, 12.14 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 12.1 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.