ABC is poised to capture its fourth straight November sweep among young adults, but it’s CBS that emerged from the month with the best story to tell.
The Eye, with many series hitting season or all-time bests in the month, should finish within a tick or two of the 18-49 lead while winning comfortably in both adults 25-54 and total viewers. While ABC is enjoying its best sweep stretch since the early ’90s, the Eye has now led the past six Novembers in 25-54 and the last eight in overall audience.
NBC was a competitive third thanks to Sunday football and Fox was in its customary laggard position in November. CW held up well — especially when you exclude its woeful Sunday lineup — and MyNetwork and top Spanish broadcaster Univision saw some growth.
The overall picture for the broadcast networks isn’t a pretty one, as they collectively declined by about 9% vs. the same period a year ago.
But after losing viewers to political coverage on the cable nets early in the sweep, the Big Four seemed to regain their footing as November went on. Ratings for the last full week of the sweep, for example, show the five broadcast nets down in the 3%-5% range vs. last year — a gap that should be erased when all DVR playback is included.
According to “most current” Nielsen estimates, ABC led in adults 18-49 with two nights to be counted with a 3.2 rating/9 share (down 11% vs. last year). It was followed by CBS (3.1/8, down 9%), NBC (2.9/8, down 9%) and Fox (2.7/7).
In total viewers, CBS was on top with 11.6 million, followed by ABC (10.4 million), NBC (7.8 million) and Fox (7 million).
(Final estimates for the sweep, which ends tonight, will be delayed until Monday due to the long Thanksgiving weekend.)
For CBS, it was all about consistency, as the net stuck mostly with its regular lineup, which produced more winning nights in 18-49 than any other network.
Most noteworthy was the continued growth for Monday’s opening-hour comedy block of “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother,” both of which hit all-time highs in the frame. They led in to “Two and a Half Men,” which remains TV’s top-rated comedy.
The Eye also saw its Wednesday comedies “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “Gary Unmarried” hit highs during November, along with Tuesday dramas “NCIS” and “The Mentalist.” Latter has emerged as the most impressive new show of the season.
Then there are vets like the “CSI” drama trio and the unscripted “Survivor,” which once again led its Thursday hour. Thanks to the original “CSI” and “Survivor,” in fact, CBS won all four Thursdays in 18-49.
ABC claimed two of the sweep’s top three series in 18-49 in “Grey’s Anatomy” (No. 1, tied with NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”) and “Desperate Housewives” (No. 3), plus “Dancing With the Stars” remained popular despite noticeable declines.
The Alphabet also benefited from a pair of three-hour music specs — the Country Music Assn. Awards and American Music Awards — that helped it win nights it wouldn’t have otherwise.
Holding ABC down elsewhere during the month were weak showings for second-year dramas “Eli Stone,” “Pushing Daisies” and “Dirty Sexy Money.” Also, rookie “Life on Mars” continues to squander more than half of its “Grey’s Anatomy” lead-in on Thursday.
At NBC, the best story was probably growth for “30 Rock,” which along with “The Office” made the net more competitive in Thursday’s crowded middle hour. Also, vets “Law and Order: SVU” (Tuesday) and “ER” (Thursday) helped the net provide its late local newscasts with winning lead-in perfs.
Not working, meanwhile, is new drama “Crusoe” on Fridays, while a pair of shows picked up for the duration of the season, “Kath and Kim” and “Knight Rider,” continue to look shaky.
Fox suffered through low ratings for its Monday tandem of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Prison Break,” but shined Tuesday with “House” and solid newcomer “Fringe.” Also contributing for the net was drama “Bones,” which has performed well on Wednesdays.
CW had reason to be happy with its November performance, at least when you toss out Sunday (where its rookie slate has performed anemically).
Monday (“Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill”), Tuesday (the frosh “90210” and “Privileged”) and Thursday (vets “Smallville” and “Supernatural)” were all up vs. last year in 18-34, and Wednesday’s “America’s Next Top Model” continues strong. And Friday held up reasonable well despite the loss of wrestling.
Univision, with hit novelas “Cuidado con el angel” (Don’t Mess With the Angel) and “Fuego en la sangre” (Burning for Revenge), looks likely to finish up slightly in both 18-34 and total viewers. It was consistently the top-rated network among the 18-34 crowd on Friday and often beat ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox on other nights.
MyNetwork, boosted by the addition of “WWE Friday Night Smackdown,” set records for a sweep month, rising from a 0.4 rating in 18-49 a year ago to 0.6 this month.
Net also is doing reasonably well with Monday series “Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed” and Tuesday’s “Jail.”
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ABC prevailed among young adults during the week of Nov. 17-23, rallying for victory behind a winning Saturday (college football) and Sunday (American Music Awards).
The Alphabet led in adults 18-49 with a 3.2/8, followed by CBS and Fox (3.0/8), NBC (2.6/7), Univision (1.5/4) and CW, ESPN and USA (all at 1.0/3). CBS led the week in 25-54 (4.0/10) and total viewers (12.04 million).
ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” logged its best scores since its season premiere (6.2/15 in 18-49, 15.91m), standing as the frame’s top draw in 18-49, and the “American Music Awards” logged their best scores in four years (5.1/12 in 18-49, 12.20m).
The Alphabet also got a nice lift from “Saturday Night Football” (3.6/11 in 18-49, 10.73m for the blowout Oklahoma-Texas Tech contest).
CBS again had the most shows in the top 20, led by “Two and a Half Men” (5.3/12, 15.18m) and “CSI” (5.0/12, 18.45m). Also, “How I Met Your Mother” (4.4/11, 9.99m) hit a series high to place in the top 10 for the first time.
On cable, ESPN’s coverage of “Monday Night Football” was easily the top draw (4.5/12 in 18-49, 11.57m for Cleveland-Buffalo).
At HBO, “True Blood” ended its first season with its second-most-watched episode to date (2.45 million), while “Entourage” wrapped its season with 2.05 million.