'Survivor' helps CBS outlast rivals in key demographic

NBC and CBS ruled primetime’s ratings race last week, with the former again getting a big boost from “Sunday Night Football” and the latter from “Survivor.”

The “Sunday Night Football” contest between the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers towered over everything else during a frame that also saw CBS score well with some early-week original scripted series and then close strong with “Survivor.” NBC hummed a nice tune with the second week of competition series “The Sing-Off,” while a slew of repeats and a lack of major sports kept Fox and ABC well behind the leaders.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates that include same-night DVR playback, NBC narrowly led the Dec. 13-19 frame in adults 18-49 with a 2.8 rating/8 share to a 2.7/8 for CBS. They were followed by Fox (1.6/5), Univision (1.4/4) and ESPN (1.2/3).

CBS moved ahead of NBC to rule among both adults 25-54 (3.7/10) and total viewers (11.1 million) — marking the net’s 12th victory in 13 weeks this season in both categories.

Looking at the week, “Sunday Night Football” continued on its torrid pace, averaging an 8.6 rating/22 share in adults 18-49 and 24.17 million viewers overall for the Patriots’ 31-27 comeback victory. It marked the 15th straight week that it has stood as primetime’s No. 1 show in 18-49 and the 10th time that the franchise has topped 20 million viewers.

Also for NBC, which made it two straight weekly victories in 18-49, the two-hour finale of “The Biggest Loser” (4.0/11 in 18-49, 11.05m) hit season highs and dominated its Tuesday time-slot — although this edition (and conclusion) was down vs. last year.

Another reality show, “The Sing-Off,” hit a ratings high note with its two-hour installment on Monday (3.3/9, 9.51m) and then dipped some but placed a strong second to CBS originals with another two-hour episode on Wednesday (2.9/8, 8.45m).

At CBS, Monday remained potent behind “Two and a Half Men” (4.2/11 in 18-49, 13.95m) — the week’s No. 1 scripted program in demos — and its skedmates “How I Met Your Mother” (3.6/10, 9.70m) and “Mike and Molly” (3.6/9, 11.96m). On Tuesday, “NCIS” dominated its hour and ranked among the week’s top 10 in key categories (4.0/12, 19.87m).

“Survivor” won its Wednesday hour (3.5/11, 12.32m) and then gave the net a boost opposite “Sunday Night Football” with the two-hour finale (4.1/11, 13.58m) and reunion show (3.4/9, 11.19m). Also Sunday, a hefty football lead-in propelled “60 Minutes” (4.0/12 in 18-49, 18.73m) to its largest overall aud in two years.

ABC, whose “Skating With the Stars” continued to put up miniscule ratings (0.8/2 in 18-49, 3.79m), was led by a repeat of “Modern Family” on Wednesday (2.1/6, 5.87m).

And Fox, which aired mostly repeats, had its best showing with an original hour of “Hell’s Kitchen” on Wednesday (2.6/7, 5.86m).

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” led the cable pack as usual (4.5/13 in 18-49, 11.93 million viewers overall for Baltimore-Houston), but the night also was a big one for History.

From 9 to 11, the net scored with “American Pickers” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.41m), top show “Pawn Stars” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 6.38m) and recent addition “Storage Wars” (1.9/6, 4.67m).

Among all primetime broadcast and cable series for the week, “Pawn Stars” ranked 21st in adults 18-49 and was the No. 3 non-sports series in men 18-34 (2.8/9).

At USA, “Burn Notice” wrapped its fall season with back-to-back episodes Thursday, including a season high in its regular 10 p.m. slot (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.11m), which was competitive in the demo with a repeat of CBS’ “The Mentalist” (1.8/5, 10.10m).

On Friday, Discovery’s “Gold Rush: Alaska” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.92m), ruled as TV’s No. 1 non-sports program during the 10 p.m. hour among men 18-49 (1.4/6) and 25-54 (1.8/7).

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