NBC Finishes First Month of Season On Top in Demos, Up Vs. Last Year

Sunday Night Football ratings
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Football, 'The Voice' and 'Blacklist' have more than compensated for some weak rookie perfs

Its new series on Wednesday and Thursday have struggled, but NBC is easily the top-rated network in young adults after the first month of the season.

Buoyed by “Sunday Night Football,” hot newcomer “The Blacklist” and two-night music contest “The Voice,” NBC is up slightly vs. last year in the adults 18-49 demo and is at its highest rating through four weeks in six years. CBS is in second place (down 4% from last year through four weeks), followed by ABC (even) and Fox (down 4%).

The Peacock is also on top in adults 25-54, while CBS is leading as usual in total viewers.

Last week, NBC crushed its rivals behind the biggest “Sunday Night Football” game of the season (10.0/27 in 18-49, 26.94m), as the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning returned to Indianapolis to take on his former team, the Colts, for the first time. This was the franchise’s No. 4-rated game in its eight seasons to date.

“The Voice” also played a key role for NBC, winning on Monday (4.5/12 in 18-49, 13.78m) and Tuesday (4.0/11 in 18-49, 12.99m) and ranking in the top 10. Airing behind “Voice,” both “The Blacklist” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 10.93m) and “Chicago Fire” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 8.08m) were the top series in their timeslots as well.

Also for the net, “The Biggest Loser” opened its season with OK numbers (2.3/7 in 18-49, 7.16m) opposite tough Tuesday competition.

NBC stayed on stop despite the fact that “Ironside” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.80m) and “Welcome to the Family” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.42m) put up third-week numbers that resulted in their cancellation. Two other new shows, Thursday comedies “Sean Saves the World” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.36m) and “The Michael J. Fox Show” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 3.56m), are staying put despite their own low numbers, with the net announcing moves last week designed to provide a stronger lead-in for the shows.

Elsewhere, CBS ran second in key demos and claimed more top 20 programs in 18-49 (seven) than any other network. The Eye was paced as usual by “The Big Bang Theory” (5.2/17 in 18-49, 17.80m) but also got another good performance by its lead-out, “The Millers” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 12.27m). Up a tick week to week, “Millers” in its third week retained 97% of its 18-49 premiere rating  — higher than any new series this fall.

Also of note for CBS, “NCIS” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 18.83m) beat ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD” head-to-head in 18-49, and reality shows “Survivor” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 10.11m) and “Undercover Boss” (1.8/7 in 18-49, 9.18m) won their hours and logged week-over-week gains. “Boss” hasn’t done a higher 18-49 rating since February.

ABC was led by “Modern Family” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 10.94m) and “Scandal” (3.3/10 in 18-49, 9.51m), the latter of which built on its “Grey’s Anatomy” lead-in by a best-yet 22% and stood as broadcast TV’s top-rated drama of the week in 18-49.

Among new shows, Tuesday’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” stablilized (2.8/8 in 18-49, 7.85m), but “The Goldbergs” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 5.05m) and “Trophy Wife” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 4.12m) continued to fall behind it. Also, Wednesday’s “Super Fun Night” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 5.95m) slid some more in its third week, Thursday’s “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.53m) was off nearly 30% from its already soft premiere score, and Sunday’s “Betrayal” edged up but remains low (0.9/2 in 18-49, 3.51m).

ABC scored Wednesday with the half-hour special “Toy Story of Terror” (3.1/10 in 18-49, 10.54m), which scared up the net’s best 18-49 rating in the timeslot in nearly two years and its highest number in kids 2-11 (5.8/19) in six years.

Fox opened the week with more good numbers for “Sleepy Hollow” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 7.59m) and an improved perf by “Dads” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 3.42m) before turning things over to baseball for three of the next four nights. The American League Championship Series between Boston and Detroit concluded Saturday with a 2.3/8 in 18-49 and a series-best 9.04 million total viewers.

For the six-game Red Sox-Tigers series, Fox averaged 7.74 million viewers, its largest LCS audience in three years. The National League Championship Series on TBS averaged 4.96 million, down from last year but up a bit from the last time the net aired the NLCS in 2011 (4.61 million).

Newcomer “Junior MasterChef” continues to be a good Friday performer for Fox (1.3/5 in 18-49, 3.96m) and has been a notable gainer in DVR playback.

CW had a decent start on Thursday for “Reign” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 1.98m), airing behind “The Vampire Diaries” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 2.93m), which was on the upswing week to week. “Vampire Diaries” spinoff “The Originals” had a good second showing in its Tuesday timeslot (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.22m), seeming to benefit from not having to face “The Voice.” It combined with “Supernatural” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.33m) to give CW its best nightly average on a Tuesday in four years and its best 18-34 delivery in more than two years.

The net also saw week-to-week gains in younger demos for Wednesday’s compatible combo of “Arrow” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.06m) and “The Tomorrow People” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2/15m).

In cable, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” remained a monster in its second week of the season (7.1/18 in 18-49, 13.95m), down 13% from its premiere but still easily the show’s second best numbers to date and the No. 1 entertainment series for all of television last week in 18-49. Its lead-out discussion program, “Talking Dead,” was the top non-sports program in its 10 p.m. slot (2.6/7 in 18-49, 4.85m).

After “Walking Dead,” FX had the week’s next two highest-rated cable dramas in 18-49, “American Horror Story” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 4.51m) and “Sons of Anarchy” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 4.36m). “Horror” beat “CSI” head-to-head in 18-49 on Wednesday, while “Sons” tied with NBC’s “Chicago Fire” on Tuesday.


Adults 18-49

NBC             3.0/9
CBS              2.3/7
ABC              1.9/6
Fox              1.8/5
UNI              1.2/4
CW               0.8/2
TEL               0.6/2

Total Viewers

CBS           10.33 million
NBC            9.33 million
ABC             7.04 million
Fox              6.15 million
UNI             3.25 million
CW              1.88 million
TEL              1.46 million

(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.  Sunday Night Football (NBC), 10.0/27
2.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 7.1/18
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 5.2/17
4.  Monday Night Football (ESPN), 4.7/13
5.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 4.5/12
6.  Modern Family (ABC), 4.1/11
7.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 4.0/11
8.  Scandal (ABC), 3.3/10
9.  The Millers (CBS), 3.2/9
9.  60 Minutes (CBS), 3.2/9
11.  Toy Story of Terror (ABC), 3.1/10
12.  NCIS (CBS), 3.1/9
12.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 3.1/9
14.  The Blacklist (NBC), 3.0/8
15.  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 2.9/8
16.  60 Minutes (CBS), 2.8/8
16.  Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (ABC), 2.8/8
18.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 2.7/8
18.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 2.7/7
18.  Sleepy Hollow (Fox), 2.7/7

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  Sunday Night Football (NBC), 26.94
2.  NCIS (CBS), 18.83
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 17.80
4.  60 Minutes (CBS), 14.95
5.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 14.65
6.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 13.95
7.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 13.78
8.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 12.99
8.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 12.99
10.  Person of Interest (CBS), 12.69
11.  The Millers (CBS), 12.27
12.  Monday Night Football (ESPN), 11.95
13.  Castle (ABC), 11.11
14.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 11.06
15.  Modern Family (ABC), 10.94
16.  The Blacklist (NBC), 10.93
17.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 10.56
18.  Toy Story of Terror (ABC), 10.55
19.  Survivor (CBS), 10.11
20.  Scandal (ABC), 9.51

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