Net dominates in demos and also wins in total viewers

Auds flocked to live programming on NBC last week, as the final three hours of “The Voice” and another strong showing by “Sunday Night Football” lifted the network to an easy victory in key demos.

In a frame that saw many scripted series in repeats, the Peacock’s music contest ruled supreme among entertainment skeins and grew vs. its most recent finale, according to Nielsen. Fox’s “The X Factor” also wrapped last week, coming in down vs. its premiere season a year ago.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for the week of Dec. 17-23, NBC led in adults 18-49 with a 2.5 rating/7 share, followed by Fox (2.0/6), CBS (1.5/4), Univision (1.2/4) and ABC (1.1/3). NBC also won in total viewers for a second time this season (8.1 million), handing CBS a rare loss.

For the season, NBC padded its averages and now leads CBS by three-tenths of a ratings point in 18-49 and has caught up again with the Eye in adults 25-54. CBS is miles ahead in total viewers.

For NBC last week, “Sunday Night Football” was a bit below average (6.7/20 in 18-49, 19.50m for 49ers-Seahawks) but was still easily the top program in key demos. It is the season’s No. 1 series in 18-49.

“The Voice” followed its Monday performance seg (4.2/11, 13.37m) with Tuesday’s two-hour results show (4.9/13, 14.13m), with the series posting its strongest numbers for a finale to date — rising by 11% in 18-49 and by 18% in total viewers vs. its winter/spring 2012 season.

Also at the Peacock, the “Miss Universe Pageant” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 6.08m) grew by 13% vs. last year’s telecast and hit a four-year high in total viewers.

CBS claimed five of the week’s top 10 programs among adults 18-49, led by original episodes of Monday comedies “2 Broke Girls” (3.5/9 10.22m), “How I Met Your Mother” (3.4/9, 8.70m) and “Mike & Molly” (3.3/8, 10.79m). Also that night, “Hawaii Five-0″ (2.4/7, 10.54m) matched or set season highs in various categories.

The Eye stuck with originals on Tuesday, and it paid off with big numbers for “NCIS” (3.3/10 in 18-49, 19.59m), which grew 18% week to week in 18-49 and was the week’s most-watched program overall. And on Thursday, an encore seg of “The Big Bang Theory” (2.9/9 in 18-49, 10.95m) won head-to-head in 18-49 over Fox’s finale of “The X Factor.”

For its two hours Thursday, “X Factor” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 9.66m) easily led the night in demos and also prevailed in total viewers but declined by 18% in 18-49 vs. its first-season conclusion a year ago. On the positive side, the show retained 100% of its year-ago finale rating among persons 12-34 (2.9).

ABC couldn’t crack a 2 demo rating all week, with its best scores coming Wednesday with a repeat “Modern Family” (1.8/5, 5.70m) and a special “20/20″ with Katie Couric looking at the year’s biggest stories (1.6/4, 5.43m). The Couric special was up from last year when it aired on a Thursday.

ESPN tied ABC for the week in 18-49 thanks to “Monday Night Football” (3.6/10 in 18-49, 10.15m for Jets-Titans) and a special Saturday edition of “MNF” to close the net’s season (3.4/11, 9.72m for Falcons-Lions).

Discovery’s “Moonshiners” set more series records Wednesday (1.8/5 in 18-49, 3.65m) and was the night’s No. 1 show on all of television in men 18-49 (2.3/7).

Thursday saw the finale of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” (1.8/5, 3.13m), which shot up nearly 50% week to week and led all of television among adults 18-49 for its 10 p.m. hour.

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