Net's Thursday night lineup plays well with the rich

Its overall audience may not be that large, but NBC’s Thursday lineup is easily primetime’s most well-heeled.

Comedies “The Office” and “30 Rock” and reality vet “The Apprentice” rank as the season’s top-indexing programs among adults 18-49 living in homes with income exceeding $100,000, according to National Audience Demographics data from Nielsen. Sophomore “Community” and frosh “Outsourced” also rank high, combining to make the night once known as “Must See-TV” a good choice for advertisers seeking an audience comprising largely of upscale viewers.

With a 100 index representing the average adult under 50, NBC and ABC are tied as the top-indexing network in this $100,000-plus category (113), followed by CBS (103) and Fox (99), according to the most recent data available (through Nov. 7). ABC, CBS and NBC are all tied in rating among these upscale 18-49ers (3.5), with CBS pulling even based on its overall advantage in the 18-49 category.

Among individual shows, NBC’s “The Office” (147), “30 Rock” (145) and “The Apprentice” (143) lead the way, and the net has more top 20 shows (eight) than any other broadcaster.

So while NBC may be struggling — it has only one of the top 20 entertainment series in average 18-49 rating this fall (“The Office”) — it can take comfort in the fact that upscale audiences still flock to the Peacock.

An affluent audience profile has been part of the net’s DNA for decades now, but NBC ideally would like to find shows that both skew upscale and draw a broad enough overall 18-49 rating to compete with the top programs on competing networks.

Among new NBC shows, “Outsourced” achieves this the best (indexing sixth in the $100,000-plus NAD category and ranking 30th among primetime shows in 18-49 rating).

Not faring as well in the ratings but upscale nonetheless are Monday serialized drama “The Event” (114 index) and the now-canceled Jimmy Smits drama “Outlaw” (116). Two other NBC newbies come in below the 100 index mark — dramas “Law and Order: Los Angeles” (95) and “Chase” (93) — but have been picked up for the rest of the season, while “Undercovers” (88), which is both very low-rated and more downscale than typical NBC dramas, is pretty much a lock to not return next season.

Other nuggets from the NAD data:

n The top entertainment series ratings (as opposed to indexes) among adults 18-49 in homes earning $100,000 or more are ABC’s “Modern Family” (8.8), Fox’s “Glee” (7.9), “The Office” (7.3), ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (7.2) and CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (6.6).

In this category, which combines upscale skew with overall 18-49 rating, CBS has the most top-20 programs (eight), followed by ABC (seven), NBC (three) and Fox (two).

n CBS hit on something when it paired “60 Minutes” (125 index) and “The Amazing Race” (127) on Sunday. While the newsmag skews much older, they likely share a significant crossover audience, as they are the net’s top-indexing series.They are followed Sunday by the broad “Undercover Boss” (103 index) and the seemingly out-of-place “CSI: Miami” (79).

n The timeslot that attracts the most affluent aud across the board is Monday’s 8 o’clock hour, which features CBS’ most upscale-skewing scripted series, “How I Met Your Mother” (123), as well as ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” (119), CW’s “90210″ (113), NBC’s “Chuck” (111) and Fox’s “House” (107).
n Fox’s decision to keep “Glee” where it is and not shift it to Wednesday at 9 p.m. (where it would face ABC’s “Modern Family”) is looking smart.
The hot “Glee” and “Modern” are among the five highest-indexing shows among 18-49ers in $100,000-plus homes. Both index at 140, so a head-to-head battle would do neither any good.
n CW’s “Gossip Girl” ranks in the top 10 among highest-indexing shows for 18-49ers in the $100,000-plus category and moves up to No. 1 among 18-34 viewers living in similarly upscale homes. Its 149 index ties with “The Apprentice” and bests “The Office” (146) as broadcast’s highest-indexing scripted program.
n Reality shows are accused of being low-brow, but the most successful unscripted series all rank in the top 20 among adults 18-49 in homes with incomes of $100,000 or more: “The Apprentice” (143), “Amazing Race” (127), NBC’s “Biggest Loser” (120), CBS’ “Survivor” (120) and “Dancing With the Stars” (119).

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