CBS prevails in total viewers for fourth straight year

There looks to be a shakeup brewing in the primetime broadcast ranks. NBC broke through last week to win premiere week in key demos for the first time in nine years.

The Peacock pulled it off on the back of its Monday and Sunday bookends, with the former rolling thanks to “The Voice” and “Revolution” and the latter crushing the competish with “Sunday Night Football” — primetime’s No. 1 program. NBC won in both adults 18-49 and 25-54, and was the only Big Four net to grow vs. last year.

CBS won in total viewers, giving the Eye its fourth consecutive premiere-week victory in that measure (the Eye has won eight of the last 10 years).

The demo results in week one were tight enough to suggest that football will be a key factor in deciding the weekly winner. In the current week, for example, CBS should be more competitive in demos since it has the early-evening Sunday NFL overrun, while Fox (which had a big NFL spillover during premiere week) will take a step back without it.

Overall, according to same-night Nielsen data for the week of Sept. 24-30, NBC led in adults 18-49 with a 2.9 rating/8 share, followed by Fox (2.6/8), CBS (2.4/7), ABC (2.2/6) and Univision (1.4/4). In adults 25-54, NBC edged out CBS (3.4/9 to 3.2/8).

NBC was up by 12% while its Big Four rivals were all down by more than 20%. Collectively, the Big Four were down 17% from last year’s premiere week, though a good chunk of this deficit will be erased by viewing via DVR playback, which is spiking so far this season (Daily Variety, Oct. 2).

Football had its biggest effect yet on a fall season, with NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” (9.0/23 in 18-49, 22.76m for Giants-Eagles) and ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” (6.4/18, 16.17m for Packers-Seahawks) standing as the frame’s top two programs in 18-49. Compared to their premiere-week scores of last year, “SNF” was up 8% and “MNF” surged by 33%.

These franchises are taking away viewers from entertainment series, as is NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” (3.4/10, 8.05m), which is starting earlier this year. The NFL Net’s Browns-Ravens matchup ranked 14th for the week and, at least in the same-night numbers, the cabler ranked second to CBS for the night.

Given the pull of the DVR these days, the week’s most impressive returning shows were CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (5.0/16 in 18-49, 15.66m) and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (4.4/12, 11.73m), which were up in all categories year-to-year.

Others matched or came within 5% of their year-ago 18-49 preems: the CBS Tuesday duo of “NCIS” (4.1/12, 20.48m) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (3.4/9, 16.74m), both of which rose vs. last year in total viewers; the ABC Sunday combo of “Once Upon a Time” (3.9/10, 11.36m) and “Revenge” (3.2/8, 9.74m), with the latter opening well on its new night; and indefatigable Fox toon “The Simpsons” (3.8/10, 8.08m).

“NCIS” was the week’s No. 1 drama in adults 25-54 (5.7/15) and No. 1 entertainment series in total viewers.

ABC’s “Modern Family,” which set the bar very high last fall, came within 8% of its year-ago premiere and was the week’s No. 1 non-sports series in 18-49 (5.5/15, 14.44m).

The hottest newcomer is NBC’s Monday drama “Revolution” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 9.21m), which declined by 16% in its second week but remained potent behind “The Voice” (4.4/11, 12.18m), with the duo vaulting the Peacock from the outhouse to the penthouse on Monday. And the drama showed huge gains in early DVR playback numbers, suggesting auds liked the premiere enough to check out the second seg.

The Peacock didn’t do much with its only two premieres last week — Wednesday half-hours “Animal Practice” (1.4/4, 5.19m) and “Guys With Kids” (1.6/5, 4.84m) — but Tuesday laffers “Go On” (2.7/7, 6.92m) and “The New Normal” (2.0/5, 5.09m) are doing OK after a few weeks.

CBS had an uphill climb with Monday comedy “Partners” (2.4/6, 6.56m) and Friday drama “Made in Jersey”( 1.1/4, 7.82m) but fared better with its latest crimers: “Vegas” on Tuesday (2.5/7, 14.85m) and Thursday’s “Elementary” (3.1/9, 13.41m). The Eye’s Sherlock Holmes-inspired “Elementary” saw the biggest DVR gain (through Thursday) of any of the new shows to premiere last week.

The Eye was the weeknight leader in the 10:30 p.m. half-hour leading into the late local news, with its average rating in adults 25-54 (3.0) well ahead of NBC (2.3) and ABC (2.2).

ABC’s two drama premieres — “Last Resort” on Thursday (2.2/7 in 18-49, 9.31m) and “666 Park Avenue” on Sunday (2.1/5, 6.90m) — posted decent numbers and will likely show some spark in DVR playback.

The Alphabet claimed the week’s No. 1 comedy (“Modern Family”) and drama (“Grey’s Anatomy”). It also had the week’s top new comedy in 18-49 with Wednesday’s “The Neighbors” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 9.22m), though it had the advantage of premiering behind “Modern Family” before sliding into its regular 8:30 slot this week.

The biggest contributor to ABC’s year-to-year declines was “Dancing With the Stars,” whose first four hours this year were down 29% vs. last year.

Fox is struggling on Monday with new drama “The Mob Doctor” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 3.85m) and got off to a modest start on Tuesday with new comedies “Ben and Kate” (2.1/6, 4.21m) and “The Mindy Project” (2.4/6, 5.09m). The comedies sandwiched the season premiere of “New Girl” (2.8/8, 5.18m), which was down sharply from its hot series premiere of a year ago.

“The X Factor” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 9.63m on Wednesday and 3.2/10, 9.39m on Thursday) and “Glee” (2.4/7, 5.79m) remain off their pace from last year. “Glee,” however, is so far recouping a big chunk of its lost audience in DVR playback.

Sunday saw a pair of strong unscripted cable performers in the 10 o’clock hour: E!’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” reunion special (1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.49m) and TLC’s “Breaking Amish” (1.3/3, 3.00m), with the latter rising 19% week to week.

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