By Rick Kissell
It’s a vote of confidence in hot rookie “The Blacklist,” the James Spader drama will return to NBC with new episodes in January — even if “The Voice” won’t be there as a lead-in.
Last season, NBC coddled Monday rookie drama “Revolution,” airing it only in weeks when it could follow “The Voice” and its big lead-in. But in keeping it off the air during winter, “Revolution” lost ratings momentum and never really recovered.
This season, though, the Peacock hopes to keep its new Monday 10 p.m. drama front-and-center in viewers’ minds by airing three episodes of “The Blacklist” in January. It will follow “American Ninja Warrior” on Jan. 13 and then “Hollywood Game Night” on Jan. 20 and 27.
This will also give NBC a chance to judge the ratings strength of “The Blacklist” when it doesn’t have a potent lead-in.
“Blacklist” has its fall finale tonight.
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Sure, “The Voice” has helped funnel a sizable audience into “Blacklist,” but the show has been bolstered by record DVR playback — suggesting that it’s not a pure timeslot hit.
In total viewers, on average it has added a U.S. television-record 6.1 million viewers to its samenight average of 11 million, making it the top-rated rookie series by this measure too and NBC’s most popular new drama at this point of its run in 19 years (since “Earth 2” in 1994).
Following the three January episodes of “The Blacklist,” NBC plans to fill the Monday 10 p.m. hour with a Sports Illustrated swimsuit special on Feb. 13. “Blacklist” is expected to return in tandem with “The Voice” following NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics.