Fox and NBC, which are sharply off from last year, account for much of the 7% decline in broadcast ratings this year. CBS and the CW are even, and ABC is actually up slightly.
The February sweeps were all about sports. NBC won the four-week period used to set ad rates by local stations, thanks to 16 days of Winter Olympics coverage. But Fox was a fairly close second, buoyed by a record-setting Super Bowl during the first week of the sweeps period. NBC averaged a 4.0 adults 18-49 rating during sweeps, which wrapped up on Wednesday. That was up 233% over last year, when the network averaged a 1.2 and famously finished fifth, behind Univision.
ABC’s Good Morning America continues its winning way in the a.m. through the first 11 weeks of the season. Season-to-date, ABC’s morning show has been averaging a Nielsen 5.7 million viewers and 2.14 million 25-54 viewers, higher than NBC’s Today, at 5.0 million and 2.07 million 25-54 viewers. CBS This Morning is farther back — at 3.05 million viewers and 1.03 million 25-54 viewers.
Incorporating seven days of program viewing data for selling metrics to TV advertisers, broadcast networks continue to see growth in time-shifting for their top shows.
This year the most buzzed-about new shows are living up to their pre-premiere hype. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Blacklist, the two dramas that got the most attention heading into the fall season, are easily the top new shows of the fall. And three comedies with familiar stars and decent buzz round out the rest of fall’s top five.
Univision emerged the primetime ratings leader last week in the key adults 18-49 demo, riding its novelas to edge past NBC in a frame that saw lower-than-usual numbers across the board due to the July 4 holiday.
If fall is the television season’s sink-or-swim deep end, then midseason is the kiddie pool. Fewer launches, lower ratings expectations and softer competition often pave the way for such slow-growing hits as Grey’s Anatomy, The Office and, most recently, Scandal. But nearly all of the 2012-13 midseason entries have drowned so far and, with the exception of Fox’s renewed Kevin Bacon hit The Following, have done so in rather gruesome fashion.
The Big Four are down 23% from the same week last year, with veteran shows hitting series lows and new ones struggling.
There has been a lot of talk this television season about the lack of new hits. But many veteran shows are also performing poorly. So far this season, only a handful of returning programs are doing better than they were last season.
The NFL postseason seems to be following the regular-season ratings trend. Though viewership for the playoffs has been huge, it’s down from last season, just as it was during the regular season on CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN. Ratings fell for three of four divisional playoff games over the weekend, one week after the wild card round of the playoffs saw viewership fall 2% The declining viewership is largely because last year’s games drew huge, often record, ratings.
Outside of NBC, which is up 23% this season, the broadcast networks aren’t having a very good fall. The rest are all down from last year, and in total the Big Five are off 11% among adults 18-49. They’ve combined for an 11.8 18-49 rating in the first seven weeks of the season, according to Nielsen, compared to a 13.3 at this point last year.
Viewer defections are the chief reason for television’s changing fortunes in morning news, where ABC’s Good Morning America has ended NBC’s epic 17-year winning streak on Today. ABC is growing — GMA has 110,000 more viewers each day this year than last — but not as much as NBC is slipping (437,000 viewers a day since last year).
It averages a 2.8 in 18-49s with the week’s No. 1 show, the top reality program and the best new show. It’s the only network to gain over last year.
Despite the lift from time-shifted viewing, network television appears to be on the ropes, losing nearly 10% of its demo deliveries in the second quarter of 2012. Broadcasters have suffered a second straight quarter of significant primetime ratings declines, according to Nomura Equity Research analyst Michael Nathanson who analyzed Nielsen C3 ratings data, which blend live viewership of a program’s commercial load with three days of time-shifted deliveries.