At a time when DVRs and Web streaming on VOD are upending primetime viewing patterns, CBS has flexed impressive muscle in bringing auds to the live telecasts of its top shows.
The network scored a rare achievement last week in having two scripted series — “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS” — draw at least 20 million same-night viewers overall in the same frame. It’s the first time any net has done that since CBS pulled it off in November 2007 with “CSI” and “Without a Trace.”
And CBS is also the first network since 2005 to have both a drama and comedy reach 20 million or more (the Eye did that with five shows in one sesh in May 2005, led by the “Everybody Loves Raymond” series finale).
“It’s extremely rare to have shows hold up so well,” said CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler, who believes their success in syndication has helped recruit new viewers. “(Viewers are) really enjoying what they’re watching, and that motivates them to check out the show on broadcast.”
She also credits showrunners Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady and Steven Molaro on “The Big Bang Theory” and Gary Glasberg on “NCIS” for keeping the shows fresh. Neither “NCIS,” in its 10th season, nor “Big Bang,” in its sixth, is the same show that premiered years ago.
“They know who watches their show, and they’ve expertly developed a supporting cast of characters (that has) been embraced (by viewers),” she said. “This has allowed them to take big leaps in new directions creatively, knowing they have such credibility with the audience.”
Series highs for “Big Bang” and football overruns on both Saturday and Sunday lifted CBS to a dominant primetime victory in key demos last week, as the Eye put up the best numbers for any network this season.
Elsewhere, the week was bookended by big numbers for college football’s championship game on ESPN and the Golden Globes on NBC. And on the series front, ABC’s sophomore drama “Scandal” hit another high.
Overall for the week of Jan. 7-13, CBS averaged a 3.3 rating/9 share, and was followed by Fox (2.9/8), NBC (2.2/6), ABC (1.9/5), ESPN (1.6/5) and Univision (1.5/4). The Eye won by a full ratings point in adults 25-54 (4.3/10, vs. 3.3/8 for Fox).
The 18-49 average matches the best by any net this season (Fox also did a 3.3 in late October) and the 25-54 rating and overall viewership are higher than those for any network since NBC aired the Olympics last summer.
“Big Bang Theory” averaged a 6.4 rating/19 share in adults 18-49, and 20 million viewers overall to establish series highs for a second straight week. It helped lead a big night, with “Two and a Half Men” (4.2/12, 14.40m) and “Person of Interest” (3.3/9, 15.67m) winning their slots in 18-49.
Also hitting season highs in 18-49 during the week for CBS were Friday’s “CSI: NY” (1.6/5, 10.71m) and “Blue Bloods” (1.6/5, 11.22m), while “The Good Wife” matched its high (1.9/4, 10.04m). Other shows, including “NCIS” (3.5/10, 21.11m) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (3.0/8, 17.90m), drew their largest overall auds of the season.
Giving CBS a big leg up last week were the concluding portions of NFL playoff action that spilled into primetime. The 8 o’clock hour on Saturday drew 43 million for the end of Ravens-Broncos, and Sunday’s 7 o’clock hour drew nearly 38 million for the conclusion of the Patriots-Texans game — making them the top two-rated hours of the week.
Elsewhere, NBC had another week of year-to-year gains, thanks in part to the best-rated “Golden Globe Awards” in six years (6.4/15, 19.69m), rising rookie drama “Chicago Fire” (2.2/6, 8.04m), and solid starts on Monday for “The Biggest Loser” (2.4/6, 6.39m) and new drama “Deception” (2.0/5, 5.66m).
“Off Their Rockers” opened decently on Tuesday (1.9/5, 6.19m for its 8:30 p.m. seg), but lead-out comedies “Go On” (1.5/4 in 18-49 4.29m) and “The New Normal” (1.3/3, 3.23m) tumbled without “The Voice” as a lead-in. Thursday comedy “1600 Penn” opened OK (1.6/4, 3.86m).
Fox could claim the week’s No. 1 primetime show, with Saturday’s dominant NFL playoff game between the Packers and 49ers (11.1/30, 30.89m). Other highlights included “New Girl” (2.0/5, 3.78m), which won Tuesday’s three-way comedy battle in 18-49, and Sunday’s “Family Guy” (3.2/7, 6.01m), the No. 1 series in 18-49 for its 9 o’clock half-hour.
The net struggled Wednesday with diving special “Stars in Danger” (1.3/4, 3.33m) and Thursday with “Mobbed” (1.2/3, 3.23m).
ABC was led by “Modern Family” (4.7/12, 12.04m) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.2/8, 9.34m), but saw its most impressive perf come in the hour after “Grey’s,” as “Scandal” (2.8/8, 8.37m) won its hour in 18-49 and hit a series high for the third time in its last five original airings; it was up 17% from its final episode of the fall.
Also solid were Wednesday’s “Nashville” (2.1/6, 5.92m) and Friday’s “Shark Tank” (2.0/6, 6.87m), but the Golden Globes took a toll on Sunday dramas “Once Upon a Time” (2.8/7, 8.24m) and “Revenge” (2.0/5, 6.17m).
Highlights on cable included the Bowl Championship Series in college football between Alabama and Notre Dame (9.2/24, 26.38m), which was up from last year — and likely would have been much higher if not for a lopsided result.
On the series side, the top 18-49 scores for originals were Discovery’s “Gold Rush” (1.9/6, 4.90m), “WWE Raw” (1.8/5, 4.65m) and Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” (1.7/4, 3.40m). Also looking good were the winter-season return of ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” (1.4/4, 3.21m) — the top show on television Tuesday in women 18-34 (3.5/10) — and the same night’s season preem of “Justified” on FX (1.3/4, 3.59m).
Discovery claimed the week’s top three cable series in adults 25-54 with “Gold Rush” (2.3/6) and Wednesday’s “Amish Mafia” and “Moonshiners” (both 1.9/5).