Determining a network’s expectations for Friday night is a daunting task.

On the one hand, Friday is known as a “death slot” for traditional television programming. Few shows draw ratings that would be considered acceptable on other nights of the week, and virtually nothing that airs is capable of generating much buzz.

On the other hand, networks do not cease operating as for-profit businesses on Friday. If their shows do not at least perform respectably, they cannot embrace the status quo.

Due to light competition on Friday, networks might expect some series to perform better than they would in loaded mid-week timeslots.

The difficulty of assessing expectations means fans cannot unconditionally celebrate the ratings for NBC’s “Hannibal” season premiere. Fans can, however, recognize some irrefutable positives of the performance.

At a 1.1 adults 18-49 rating with 3.35 million viewers, “Hannibal” significantly outperformed the last few episodes of its first season, all of which aired on Thursday at 10PM.

The second season “Hannibal” premiere attracted more viewers than all but the first three episodes of season one. It tied or outdelivered all but those three in adults 18-49.

It also compared favorably to many episodes of previous timeslot occupant “Dracula.” While “Dracula” premiered its first season with a far stronger 1.8 rating and 5.26 million viewers, its numbers quickly slipped. All but its first two episodes either trailed or matched the 1.1 posted by “Hannibal.”

While the aforementioned facets of analysis might provide “Hannibal” loyalists with a sense of optimism, the reality is that many shows tend to endure ratings setbacks as their seasons progress. If ratings for season two of “Hannibal” fall at the same rate as its and Dracula’s first seasons, they will start to venture into bleak territory.

If, however, the premiere rating reflects the regular level of interest in “Hannibal,” it might be in a tolerable position when NBC makes its 2014-15 scheduling announcement.

Earlier in the night, “Dateline” posted a 1.2 with 6.22 million viewers. “Grimm,” the lead-in for “Hannibal,” delivered a 1.4 with 5.19 million.

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