So the premiere of Glee's preliminary ratings are in. 7.315 million viewers, a 4.6/7 in HH, and 3.3/9 in A18-49, with approximately a 70% female audience. (EDIT: in finals, Glee improved to 7.502 million viewers and a 3.5/9 in A18-49, while HH remained the same)
Here's an interesting number, though... 5.3/14 (EDIT: 5.4/15 in finals, a 28.57% gain) in W18-34 (and in a very positive sign for Glee... this was 26.19% above its final 4.2/12 W18-34 rating from the post-Idol preview in May, which wa. This is supposed to be CW's target demo... the reason it exists. Here's the W18-34 from Tuesday's Melrose Place's premiere (also preliminary): 2.5/7. The MP premiere was just as hyped as Glee's. And Glee more than doubled MP's rating in CW's sweet spot.
A little more perspective: Gossip Girl's series high in W18-34 is a 4.3/12 (finals from September 15, 2008), though by the end of last season it wasn't breaking a 3.0.
Yes, it's too soon (following a much-hyped premiere, and without regular competition... though Wipeout and America's Got Talent are two of summer's biggest threats) to say Glee is a smashing success. We'll see how the ratings and demos trend.
But here's what I do know (and, well, we've all known it for a long time): The CW is WRONG.
I'm privy to development objectives of the various networks because, as a writer, you have to know where to take projects based on what people are interested in. The is vehement about not doing shows about high school. They do shows, like Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries, that feature high school characters, but they try and focus those shows away from school and more on the town and extra-curricular lives of the characters (I don't watch 90210, but has the school setting been largely phased out?) They are also phasing teenage characters out... they prefer 20-something female leads. It is far more interested in revamps and remakes and adaptations than original creations (that's not to say they aren't developing purely original material... just that the general industry wisdom is that they are encouraging more of the "90210 and Melrose Place revamp" ilk... though perhaps that will change after Tuesday's bombing).
Glee proves the CW wrong (as does to ratings success of Secret Life of the American Teenager, as does the success of the WB a decade ago with teenage shows about high school and high schoolers... that spoke universally to an American experience that everyone always goes through... there are always more people entering and exiting high school, while Gossip Girl clings to its 2.5 million viewer niche). Glee may have a split focus between the stories of the teens and those of adults, but its biggest strength is, very plainly, the teens and the high school experience. We don't see much of the classroom, and that's fine... the high school exists as a social entity, showing a dichotomy of cool and uncool and the trials and tribulations of teenage romance. I may enjoy Jane Lynch's zingers as Sue Sylvester... but I'm coming back again and again for the kids (and the show better not forget that and focus too heavily on the adults!) Clearly, females 18-34 are interested in this (because you cannot tell me that the musical element is the real reason people are tuning in... there's way too many examples of why that's not true, though Glee is certainly doing the musical TV show thing better than it's been done before).
I sincerely hope Dawn Ostroff is paying attention (or gets fired and someone competent is put in charge... at long last) and The CW attempts to develop shows in the spirit of The WB's heyday though at this point, it may be too little too late.
I challenge the CW to create as show as purely enjoyable (if not as unique) as Glee. If it does... I predict strong ratings would be its reward.