NBC Hits the Right Notes, Dominates Weekly Ratings Race

Net also wins in total viewers, getting a big boost from Thursday's 'Sound of Music Live'

Sound of Music Live

There’s a premium on live and special event programming these days, and NBC tapped into that in a big way last week in dominating the frame with one of its most impressive performances in years.

The Peacock, which is powered in the fall by the one-two punch of DVR-proof “Sunday Night Football” and the mostly live music competition series “The Voice,” added another watch-me-now event to its roster with a live presentation of “The Sound of Music.”

The Carrie Underwood-fronted project, from exec producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and based on the Broadway musical, delivered very impressive Nielsen numbers, including NBC’s best non-sports 18-49 score for a Thursday (4.6 rating/13 share) since the night of the “ER” finale in 2009, and its largest overall non-sports audience on the night (18.62 million) since 2004.

NBC also points out that “Sound of Music Live” attracted plenty of “upscale” viewers, earning a 6.8 rating in adults 18-49 living in homes with $100,000+ incomes — tying the “Modern Family” season premiere in September as the highest-rated entertainment telecast since the Oscars in February.

Wednesday was another good example of NBC making the most out of special programming, as it saw the best numbers in four years for “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 9.74 million viewers overall). And it was paired with a two-hour holiday-themed clips show of “Saturday Night Live” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 7.42m), which drew the net’s best numbers in the timeslot since the season premiere of “Law & Order: SVU.”

Among entertainment series, Monday drama “The Blacklist” remains the fall’s best-looking rookie, hitting a nine-week high in 18-49 (3.2/9) and a 10-week high (best since its premiere) in total viewers (11.67 million).

“The Voice” was the top entertainment program in 18-49 on both Monday (3.4/9 in 18-49, 12.03m) and Tuesday (3.4/10 in 18-49, 12.14m). Also on Tuesday, “Biggest Loser” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 6.76m) and “Chicago Fire” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 8.22m) both beat their broadcast competition in demos.

Add it all up, and NBC was first in 18-49 (or tied for first) among the Big Four on six of seven nights last week — the first time that’s happened without sports help since 2002. NBC also beat out CBS in total viewers, bagging its largest in-season weekly audience (10.55 million), excluding weeks with big sports help, in nearly five years.

NBC leads the season in adults 18-49 by 0.5 of a ratings point, the biggest lead for any net at this point in 11 years.

Among highlights elsewhere, Fox scored big with the Big 10 Championship game in college football on Saturday as the Michigan State-Ohio State matchup did a big 4.5/14 in 18-49 and 13.9 million viewers overall.

Football of the pro variety helped the net Sunday, as an NFL overrun contributed to season highs for the net’s animated comedy block, led by “The Simpsons” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 6.85m) and “Family Guy” (2.7/6 in 18-49, 5.36m).

ABC had a good Sunday, as “America’s Funniest Home Videos” hit season highs (1.5/4 in 18-49, 7.04m) and “Once Upon a Time” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 6.94m) and “Revenge” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 6.04m) were on the rise heading into their fall finales. On Wednesday, the net’s “Nashville” matched a nine-week high in 18-49 (1.6/5).

At CBS, “The Big Bang Theory” was the week’s top-rated non-sports program in both adults 18-49 (4.8/14) and 25-54 (6.2/16), and “Survivor” hit a season high in total viewers (10.63 million).

At CW, the first appearance of Dr. Barry Allen (The Flash) in Starling City helped power “Arrow” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.24m) to a series high in adults 18-34 (1.2/4), matched its series high in key male demos and its largest overall audience since February.

One week from its season finale, FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” was on the rise (2.5/8 in 18-49, 4.58m), beating NBC’s “Chicago Fire” head-to-head in 18-49 and ranking among primetime’s top 20 programs for the week.

A&E, History and Lifetime each aired the first night of two-part movie “Bonnie & Clyde” on Sunday, earning a cume 2.84 rating in adults 18-49 and 9.82 million viewers overall. More than half of the 18-49 audience watching on History was male, but just 35% of Lifetime’s viewership was guys.

Bravo claimed Sunday’s top-rated series in 18-49 with “Real Housewives of Atlanta” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.78m), which hit season highs in several demos.

Discovery’s “Gold Rush” remained hot on Friday (1.5/5 in 18-49, 4.22m), ruling not only as cable’s No. 1 show of the night in 18-49 (1.5/5) and total viewers (4.22 million), but finishing ahead of competing unscripted series “Shark Tank” on ABC in both men 18-49 and 25-54.


Adults 18-49 (rating/share)

NBC             3.1/9
Fox              2.4/7
CBS              1.7/5
ABC             1.6/5
UNI              1.0/3
CW               0.7/2
TEL              0.6/2

Total Viewers

NBC          10.55 million
CBS             7.93 million
Fox              7.19 million
ABC             5.88 million
UNI             2.76 million
CW              1.77 million
TEL             1.34 million

(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.  Sunday Night Football (NBC), 6.9/17
2.  Monday Night Football (ESPN), 5.4/15
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 4.8/14
4.  The Sound of Music Live (NBC), 4.6/13
5.  Big Ten Football Championship (Fox), 4.5/14
6.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 3.4/10
6.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 3.4/9
8.  The Blacklist (NBC), 3.2/9
8.  Modern Family (ABC), 3.2/9
10. The Simpsons (Fox), 3.1/8
11.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 3.0/9
11.  Scandal (ABC), 3.0/8
13.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 2.7/7
13.  Family Guy (Fox), 2.7/6
15.  Survivor (CBS), 2.6/8
15.  SNL Christmas (NBC), 2.6/8
17.  Sons of Anarchy (FX), 2.5/8
18.  The Millers (CBS), 2.4/7
18.  Mike & Molly (CBS), 2.4/6
20.  Christmas in Rockefeller Center, 2.3/7
20.  Chicago Fire (NBC), 2.3/7
20.  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 2.3/6

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  NFL Thursday Special (NBC), 19.06
2.  Sound of Music Live (NBC), 18.62
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 17.75
4.  Monday Night Football (ESPN), 15.50
5.  Big Ten Championship Game (Fox), 13.90
6.  NCIS (CBS), 12.59
7.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 12.14
8.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 12.03
9.  The Blacklist (NBC), 11.67
10.  60 Minutes (CBS), 11.56
11.  Survivor (CBS), 10.63
12.  The Mentalist (CBS), 9.97
13.  Christmas in Rockefeller Center (NBC), 9.74
14.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 9.62
15.  Modern Family (ABC), 9.47
16.  The Millers (CBS), 9.23
17.  The Amazing Race (CBS), 9.21
18.  Mike & Molly (CBS), 8.71
19.  Person of Interest (CBS), 8.64
20.  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 8.48