2016-17 TV Season: NBC Leads Demo, CBS Takes Viewers, ‘This Is Us’ No. 1 New Show

The 2016-17 TV season has officially concluded, with NBC claiming the overall top spot in adults 18-49 and CBS winning the season in total viewers, according to Nielsen’s current numbers (live-plus-seven for all but the last two weeks of the season ending May 24).

CBS’ win marks the ninth consecutive season the network has topped the total viewers measurement, and their 14th win in the past 15 years, according to Nielsen’s ratings through May 21. CBS averaged 9.6 million viewers, approximately 1.5 million more than second place NBC.

NBC averaged a 2.1 rating in adults 18-49, versus a 1.9 for Super Bowl-boosted Fox, 1.8 for CBS, and 1.6 for ABC. Compared to last year, only Fox stayed even in the key demo. CBS suffered the biggest drop, shedding 22% of its audience in the demo year-over-year. ABC dropped 16%, with the CW next at a drop of 12%, while NBC slipped just 5%. In total viewers, it was much the same story. Fox and NBC improved slightly, with Fox ticking up 1% and NBC up 0.1% from the 2015-16 season. Despite taking the top spot, CBS was down 12% in viewers. ABC dropped 9% and The CW lost 9%. Nevertheless, Fox has its most watched primetime in three years.

Various broadcasts of NFL football on NBC and CBS again claimed the top spots in the primetime rankings, but NBC’s freshman series “This Is Us” proved to be the undisputed scripted breakout hit of the new season, clocking in at No. 5 overall just below “The Big Bang Theory.” Perennial favorites “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Bachelor,” and “The Voice” rounded out the overall top 10. CBS’ Michael Weatherly starrer “Bull” was the top new show in total viewers, averaging 15.5 million viewers in L7 for the season. “This Is Us” was close behind with 15.3 million.

When looking only at new series from this season, Fox had five freshman shows in the top 15 — “Lethal Weapon,” “24: Legacy,” “Star,” “Prison Break,” and “The Mick” — which is more than any other broadcast network. ABC’s “Designated Survivor” also proved very popular, placing second among new shows behind “This Is Us.” For CBS, both “Bull” and “Kevin Can Wait” ranked just below “Lethal Weapon.”

Most broadcast shows saw declines in ratings yet again. “Empire” remained one of the top-rated shows on television with a 4.3, making it the third highest-rated scripted show behind “This Is Us” and “Big Bang.” However, the show suffered a 33% drop in the demo compared to last season. ABC’s “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” saw similar drops, with both shows dropping over 20% each. NBC’s “The Blacklist” saw a 25% drop, while “Chicago Med” dipped 13%. However, “Chicago Fire” held even and “Chicago P.D.” even improved slightly.

View the network rankings and the top 50 broadcast series from 2016-17 below:

Adults 18-49 Rating, All programs
NBC…2.1
Fox…1.9
CBS…1.8
ABC…1.6
The CW…0.7

Total Viewers, All Programs
CBS…9.6 million
NBC…8.1 million
ABC…6.2 million
Fox…5.8 million
The CW…1.8 million

Top 50 Programs Adults 18-49
PROGRAM A18-49 Rank NETWORK 18-49 2016-17 RTG 18-49 2015-16 RTG % CHANGE TOTAL VIEWERS (000)
1. NBC Sunday Night Football NBC 6.9 7.5 -8% 20120
2. NBC Thursday Night Football NBC 5.9 N/A  N/A 17113
3. CBS Thursday Night Football CBS 5.0 5.7 -13% 14786
4. The Big Bang Theory CBS 4.9 5.8 -15% 19029
5. This is Us NBC 4.8 N/A  N/A 15299
6. Empire FOX 4.3 6.4 -33% 11196
7. Modern Family ABC 3.4 3.7 9% 10786
8. Grey’s Anatomy ABC 3.5 3.6 -3% 11234
9. The Bachelor ABC 3.1 3.0 3% 9003
10. The Voice (Mon) NBC 3.0 3.4 -11% 12619
11. The Voice (Tue) NBC 2.9 3.1 -5% 12510
12. Designated Survivor ABC 2.9 N/A  N/A 12104
13. How to Get Away With Murder ABC 2.6 3.5 -25% 7907
14. Scandal ABC 2.6 3.4 -24% 8623
15. Survivor CBS 2.5 2.8 -10% 10523
16. NCIS CBS 2.5 3.1 -19% 18402
17. Chicago Fire NBC 2.5 2.5 0% 10684
18. The Goldbergs ABC 2.5 2.5 0% 7791
19. Law & Order: SVU NBC 2.4 2.3 4% 8785
20. Criminal Minds CBS 2.4 2.9 -17% 10897
21. Black-ish ABC 2.4 2.4 0% 7374
22. Lethal Weapon FOX 2.4 N/A  N/A 9176
23. Chicago P.D. NBC 2.4 2.2 7% 10140
24. Bull CBS 2.2 N/A  N/A 15503
25. Kevin Can Wait CBS 2.2 N/A  N/A 9246
26. Speechless ABC 2.2 N/A  N/A 6972
27. The Simpsons Fox 2.1 2.1 0% 4936
28. American Housewife ABC 2.1 N/A  N/A 7034
29. The Middle ABC 2.1 2.3 -8% 7795
30. Dancing With the Stars ABC 2.1 2.2 -4% 12627
31. The Blacklist NBC 2.1 2.8 -26% 9705
32. Timeless NBC 2.1 N/A  N/A 7987
33. Chicago Med NBC 2.1 2.4 -14% 9908
34. 24: Legacy Fox 2.1 N/A  N/A 7321
35. Scorpion CBS 2.0 2.5 -18% 10681
36. Star FOX 2.0 N/A  N/A 5974
37. Hunted CBS 2.0 N/A  N/A 7259
38. Family Guy Fox 2.0 2.2 -10% 4025
39. Life in Pieces CBS 1.9 2.7 -28% 8168
40. Mom CBS 1.9 2.3 -15% 9440
41. The Good Place NBC 1.9 N/A  N/A 6015
42. NCIS: New Orleans CBS 1.9 2.3 -17% 13428
43. The Flash CW 1.9 1.7 10% 4724
44. Gotham FOX 1.9 2.1 -11% 5229
45. Saturday Night Football ABC 1.9 1.6 16% 6041
46. Lucifer Fox 1.8 2.4 -23% 6072
47. Blue Bloods CBS 1.8 1.8 0% 14071
48. 2 Broke Girls CBS 1.8 2.3 -20% 7025
50. The Mick Fox 1.8 N/A  N/A 4606
Source: Nielsen

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