ACM Awards Surge to 12-year Demo High for CBS on Sunday

It's latest kudocast to benefit from social-media buzz; show tops rival CMAs for season

Opposite mostly repeats on the competition, and a week after some big cable programs ended their runs, CBS dominated Sunday with the Academy of Country Music Awards, the latest kudocast to perform well in 2013.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, the ACMs from Las Vegas averaged a strong 4.3 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 15.4 million viewers overall from 8 to 11 p.m., winning each half-hour in both categories. It shot up by nearly 40% vs. last year for the show’s best demo delivery in 12 years. It couldn’t hurt that among the performers was the hot Blake Shelton, who has become more popular since he became a judge on NBC’s hot “The Voice.”

The ACMs join the Golden Globe Awards and Oscars with nice ratings gains vs. last year, while the Grammys were down from their record ratings of last year following Whitney Houston’s death but still logged some of the show’s best numbers in years. Social media continues to be a big ratings driver for live events, and Bluefin Labs reported Monday that the ACMs were far and away the week’s most talked-about television program of the week; its 1.9 million comments were more than the next three programs combined (Saturday’s two NCAA men’s basketball semifinals on CBS and a Mavericks-Lakers NBA contest on TNT earlier in the week).

The big showing on Sunday means that the Academy of Country Music Awards rated higher than its rival show, the Country Music Association Awards, which aired on ABC in November and averaged a 3.8/10 in 18-49 and 13.7 million viewers overall; the CMAs, however, aired two days after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and left millions of homes  without power. In each of the three prior seasons, the CMAs were a full 1.5 ratings points higher than the ACMs in adults 18-49.

Earlier in the evening for CBS, “60 Minutes” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall) won its hour and stood as Sunday’s top-rated broadcast series in both adults 25-54 (2.1/6) and total viewers.

It was slow going at CBS’ rivals on Sunday with Fox edging out NBC for second place among young adults. Fox aired a lineup of five repeats and one original. The scores for the repeats were: “Bob’s Burgers” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.7 million viewers overall), “The Cleveland Show” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 2.0 million viewers overall), “The Simpsons” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall), “Family Guy” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall). A special original episode of “Cleveland Show” followed “Family Guy” at 9:30 (1.6/4 in 18-49, 3.4 million viewers overall), retaining just about all of its lead-in.

Fox was the No. 2 broadcaster in adults 18-49 in each half-hour from 8 to 10.

NBC aired a repeat of Monday’s two-hour “The Voice” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall), which peaked with a 1.6 demo rating in its final half-hour. It was followed by an encore of Tuesday’s episode (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.7 million viewers overall) and an original hour of “Celebrity Apprentice” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall). Beginning next week, “Apprentice” expands to two hours on the night.

ABC had a very quiet night, airing all repeats of its regular Sunday lineup: “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall), “Once Upon a Time” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall), “Revenge” (0.6/1 in 18-49, 2.4 million viewers overall) and “Red Widow’ (0.5/1 in 18-49, 2.2 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 3.6/10; Fox, 1.3/4; NBC, 1.2/4; Univision, 0.9/3; ABC, 0.7/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 13.9 million; NBC, 3.7 million; ABC, 3.3 million; Fox, 2.8 million; Univision, 2.4 million.

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