HOLLYWOOD — NBC remains the net to beat when it comes to delivering the most upscale auds to advertisers, but CBS is now a very competitive No. 2.
In fact, given certain trends, it’s not out of the question that the Eye, which was a distant fourth a few seasons ago in Nielsen’s measurement of such things as the most well-to-do and Internet-savvy of viewers, can give the Peacock an even tougher run for the money next season.
ABC and Fox, meanwhile, on average remain more downscale but both are getting a boost from — of all things — unscripted “reality” programs.
High scores in upscale categories can mean more prestige for a network, and, of course, more coin from advertisers.
According to Nielsen’s National Audience Demographic (NAD) data for the current season through February, regular programs on NBC indexed at a 108 among viewers who annually earn $75,000 or more. CBS was at 100, followed by ABC (92), Fox (87), the WB (75) and UPN (50).
To crunch these numbers, a rating among adults 18-49 in the $75,000-plus group is divided by its overall 18-49 rating, generating an index. One higher than 100 means it has a bigger chunk of upscale viewers than the general 18-49 TV-viewing population.
What every net wants, of course, are shows that rate high among the advertiser-friendly 18-49 demo while at the same time attracting an upscale aud. Some of the shows that do both include all of NBC’s Thursday comedies and the Eye’s “Everybody Loves Raymond,” dramas like “ER,” “CSI” and “24” and — gasp — Fox’s limited-run reality skein “Joe Millionaire.”
Other shows deliver more modest ratings but their aud is more densely populated by the affluent. These include NBC’s “Ed” (125 index), CBS’ “60 Minutes” (116) and ABC’s “NYPD Blue” (111).
NBC possesses the seven highest-indexing skeins on air, but it’s worth noting that this is a net whose lowest-indexing series (reality show “Fear Factor” at 82) is at its ratings peak while some of its most upscale shows (“West Wing” at 150, “Ed” at 125, “Frasier” at 119) are at their valleys.
The primary reason that CBS has become profitable is that it has not only improved its standing in adults 18-49, but its shows on average are playing to a more upscale audience.
CBS has become much more consistent throughout its sked, with “CSI: Miami” (108), “King of Queens” (109) among the shows that make the Eye’s sales department happy.
Talent show “Star Search,” though, while bringing younger viewers to CBS, is indexing at an 80 — well below the unscripted skein that it replaced on Wednesday (“Amazing Race,” at 100).
Fox is the most schizoid of the nets, with high indexers like “24” (117), “Joe Millionaire” (107) and “American Idol” (97) and laggards like “Fastlane” (64), “Cops” (61) and “Cedric the Entertainer” (59).
Some of ABC’s top-indexers are vet dramas like “NYPD Blue” (111) and “The Practice” (103), but it’s also seen nice additions like comedies “8 Simple Rules” (98) and “Less Than Perfect” (97), and reality skein “The Bachelor” (100).
UPN has the bleakest story to tell here, with its highest-indexing series the struggling “Enterprise” (75) and the soon-to-depart “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (71). Net’s other series, including its laffers and wrestling’s “WWE Smackdown,” are in the 40-range.
The WB, like Fox and ABC, is more upscale now because of unscripted series. Both “Surreal Life” (84) and “High School Reunion” (83) scored above the net’s average, with the latter most surprising as it aired behind the decidedly downscale “Charmed” (55).
Where the Frog has made strides in the NAD data is with shows like the Monday tandem of “7th Heaven” (96) and “Everwood” (95) and Tuesday’s “Gilmore Girls” (88).