You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

It’s a Wrap: ‘Sunday Night Football,’ ‘Big Bang Theory’ and ‘NCIS’ Top Season Rankings

Thirteen shows gained at least 3 million viewers in full-week DVR playback, up from 8 last year

It used to be that when Nielsen issued the final program rankings on the day after the season ended, the ratings book was closed.

But as DVRs play an increasingly larger role in how Americans watch their favorite shows, you have to wait a few weeks after the end of the season for the final playback tallies that include all viewing within a week of a show’s initial telecast.

And the rankings themselves can be misleading since programs that air throughout the September-May season (a combo of originals and repeats) are stacked up against programs like sports, reality shows and limited-series dramas that air only original episodes. This season, for example, seven of the top 10 series in 18-49 broadcast program rankings aired no repeats — because they each sat out a big chunk of the season.

So the only way to get a clear picture of the truly most popular series in 18-49 is to compare only first-run telecasts.

In an apples-to-apples look at the top broadcast series for original episodes (see list below), NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” remains on top in 18-49, but CBS’ surging “The Big Bang Theory” pulled within half a ratings point and overtook ABC’s “Modern Family” as the No. 1 scripted program and No. 2 overall.

In total viewers, CBS’ “NCIS” finished comfortably ahead of “Sunday Night Football” and “Big Bang.”

The top 50 series in adults 18-49 for the 2012-13 season includes five newcomers, led by dramas “The Following” (Fox) and “Revolution” (NBC). In a bad sign for comedy, though, no first-year half-hour that’s returning next season is among this season’s top 50 (ABC’s canceled “How to Live With Your Parents” ranked 46th).

ABC’s “Scandal” was the big gainer among returning shows, rising 35% from last year. “The Big Bang Theory” was among four other shows gaining ground: “The Voice-Tuesday” (NBC), “The Bachelor” (ABC), “The Biggest Loser” (NBC) and “Grimm” (NBC).

Sunday Night Football,” “Person of Interest” (CBS) and “Parenthood” (NBC) were all basically flat while the shows that limited declines to 10% or less were “The Amazing Race” and “NCIS” on CBS, “Castle,” “The Middle” and “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC and “Family Guy” and “American Dad” on Fox.

The amount of DVR playback, meanwhile, continued to grow in the 2012-13 TV campaign. This season, 11 broadcast series gained at least 1.2 ratings points in adults 18-49 from same-day to Live+7 numbers — up from nine last season and just five two years ago. The biggest gainers were “Modern Family” (2.2), “The Big Bang Theory” (1.9), “The Following” and “Revolution” (both 1.7) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (1.6).

Similarly in total viewers, the number of shows gaining at least 3 million (13) is up sharply from last season’s eight and just three for the 2010-11 TV year. “Modern Family and “Big Bang Theory” both packed on more than 4 million viewers in Live+7, while a trio of first-year dramas — “The Following,” “Revolution” and CBS’ “Elementary” — all grew by between 3.8 million and 4 million.

Here’s a look at Nielsen’s final 18-49 averages for all original, regularly scheduled series telecasts for the 2012-13 season (new shows in bold):

1)  Sunday Night Football (NBC), 7.9
2)  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 7.2
3)  Modern Family (ABC), 6.4
4)  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 5.2
5)  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 4.7
6)  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 4.7
6)  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 4.7
8)  American Idol-Wed. (Fox), 4.6
9)  American Idol-Thu. (Fox), 4.4
9)  NCIS (CBS), 4.4
11)  The Following (Fox), 4.3
11)  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 4.3
11)  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 4.3
14)  Revolution (NBC), 4.2
15)  Criminal Minds (CBS), 4.1
16)  Person of Interest (CBS), 3.9
17)  Once Upon a Time (ABC), 3.8
18)  Family Guy (Fox), 3.7
18)  Mike & Molly (CBS), 3.7
18)  New Girl (Fox), 3.7
21)  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 3.6
22)  Elementary (CBS), 3.5
22)  Scandal (ABC), 3.5
22)  The X Factor-Wed. (Fox), 3.5
25)  Glee (Fox), 3.4
26)  The X Factor-Thu. (Fox), 3.3
26)  The Bachelor (ABC), 3.3
26)  CSI (CBS), 3.3
26)  The Office (NBC), 3.3
26)  Survivor (CBS), 3.3
31)  Revenge (ABC), 3.2
32)  The Amazing Race (CBS), 3.0
32)  Bones (Fox), 3.0
32)  Castle (ABC), 3.0
32)  Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), 3.0
32)  The Simpsons (Fox), 3.0
37)  The Middle (ABC), 2.9
37)  Nashville (ABC), 2.9
39)  The Biggest Loser (NBC), 2.8
39)  Chicago Fire (NBC), 2.8
39)  Grimm (NBC), 2.8
39)  Parenthood (NBC), 2.8
39)  Rules of Engagement (CBS), 2.8
44)  Hell’s Kitchen (Fox), 2.7
44)  Suburgatory (ABC), 2.7
46)  American Dad (Fox), 2.6
46)  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 2.6
46)  How to Live With Your Parents (ABC), 2.6
46)  The Mentalist (CBS), 2.6
50)  Law & Order: SVU (NBC), 2.5

1)  NCIS (CBS), 22.75 million
2)  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 21.10 million
3)  Sunday Night Football (NBC), 21.00 million
4)  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 18.27 million
5)  Person of Interest (CBS), 17.87 million
6)  Modern Family (ABC), 15.49 million
7)  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 15.46 million
8)  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 15.15 million
9)  Dancing With the Stars-Monday (ABC), 15.04 million
10)  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 14.83 million

More TV

  • Taylor Swift

    The Show Will Go On for Taylor Swift at the AMAs as Label, DCP Reach Agreement

    The show will go on for Taylor Swift on the “American Music Awards” this Sunday. Following a public dustup concerning permission to perform her older material, whose master rights are owned by Big Machine Label Group, the company (newly owned by Scooter Braun who purchased it from Scott Borchetta) along with AMAs producers Dick Clark [...]

  • 'Dead To Me,' 'Why Women Kill'

    From 'Dead To Me' to 'Why Women Kill,' Angry Women are Getting Their Due on TV

    Angry women, this is your time. At least on TV. From such classic sitcoms as “The Honeymooners” to more modern multicams including “Everybody Loves Raymond,” lead female characters were more often than not portrayed as foils or just general counterpoints to their husbands. Sometimes this was portrayed through hysterical antics; more commonly it was through [...]

  • Melina Matsoukas AFI Franklin J Schaffner

    'Queen and Slim' Director Melina Matsoukas Inks First-Look Deal at FX

    Director Melina Matsoukas has signed a first-look deal with FX Productions. Under the deal, Matsoukas will develop new content for FX Networks. She recently directed the pilot for the upcoming FX series “Y,” based on the graphic novel series “Y: The Last Man.” Matsoukas will also serve as an executive producer on the series. Her [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Pose

    How The Golden Globes Celebrate Cinematic Television (Column)

    When Martin Scorsese complains that a Marvel movie isn’t cinema, he’s not wrong. But his critique of the commercialism undergirding those movies is expressed in the language and tone of an old crank defending a fading novelty from some darned, degenerate kids. It’s not that the theatrical movie-going experience (so sacred!) is going away anytime [...]

  • Runaways -- "Big Shot" -- Episode

    'Runaways' to End After Season 3 on Hulu

    The live-action Marvel series “Runaways” is ending with its upcoming season on Hulu, Variety has learned. The show, which is based on the Marvel comics series of the same name, is set to debut its third season on Dec. 13. That season will now serve as the show’s finale. According to an individual close to the [...]

  • Florence Pugh and Beanie Feldstein

    Beanie Feldstein on Her Next Role as Monica Lewinsky in 'American Crime Story'

    Beanie Feldstein recently signed on to portray Monica Lewinsky in “Impeachment: American Crime Story” — a role she called “daunting” — but the “Booksmart” actress may be more excited about the fact she gets to co-star opposite Sarah Paulson. Feldstein gushed about the opportunity to work with Paulson to “Little Women’s” Florence Pugh during their [...]

  • Servant Executive Producer/Writer and Creator of

    'Servant' Boss Breaks Down Apple TV Plus Collaboration with M. Night Shyamalan

    Tony Basgallop’s latest television venture is a tense family drama with a twist. In Apple TV Plus’ “Servant,” married couple Sean (Toby Kebbell) and Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) experience a trauma with their newborn, but rather than deal with it head-on, they use a reborn doll (a realistic baby doll that they treat like a living, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content