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ABC, NBC draw upscale audiences

'Office,' 'Apprentice' hook high-income households

ABC and NBC may not win the season’s ratings race, but they definitely have a leg up on the other broadcasters in attracting an upscale audience.

While CBS and Fox figure to battle down to the final nights for the season’s 18-49 crown, the average audience they draw isn’t as well-heeled, according to Nielsen data through January.

Among adults 18-49 living in households earning $100,000 or more, ABC sets the pace with an index of 112 (meaning its audience is 12% more likely than the average adult under 50 to bring home the big bucks). NBC was close behind at 107, with CBS at 90 and Fox at 87. (Fox usually rises in the second half of the season with more episodes of the very upscale “24” and the above-average upscale reality show “American Idol.”)

The top-indexing programs in the $100,000 category through January were NBC’s “The Office” (138), ABC’s “Boston Legal” (135), NBC’s “The Apprentice” (132) and rookie dramas “Brothers & Sisters” on ABC and “Studio 60” on NBC (both 131).

None of these is a top-10 hit in the overall averages, although “The Office” and “Brothers & Sisters” are performing well.

Indeed, some of the bigger hits on television are closer to the 100 index average because they rely on viewers of all incomes, so ABC is looking especially good since it has a few shows like “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy” that are both popular overall while attracting the upscale aud advertisers covet — each indexes at a 120 or better and is a top-10 show for the season overall in the 18-49 demo.

A few other tidbits from the data:

  • The top two CBS shows air back to back on Sundays: the older-skewing “60 Minutes” (126) and the younger-skewing “Amazing Race” (123), while Fox’s highest-rated year-round program is “House” (102).

  • Comedies over-index relative to their rankings in other ratings categories, with half-hours accounting for seven of the top 25-indexing programs. List is comprised of all four of NBC’s Thursday laffers, “Two and a Half Men” and “How I Met Your Mother” from CBS and “Knights of Prosperity” on ABC.

  • While NBC has long been a leader among upscale viewers, its two biggest hits — rookie drama “Heroes” (95) and gamer “Deal or No Deal” (89) — are both well below its average.

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