While NBC has won a third straight November sweep in adults 18-49 and CBS prevailed yet again in total viewers, the big takeaway from the four-week ratings period was a strong showing by ABC.
The Alphabet, whose “Dancing With the Stars” ended its latest edition Tuesday with the show’s best in-season numbers in two years, retained all of its year-ago 18-49 audience during the month while its rivals were down double-digits, according to Nielsen “live plus same-day” estimates for 27 of the sweep’s 28 nights.
And by holding steady in same-day numbers — a big accomplishment these days due to ever-increasing levels of time-shifted viewing that is done in the days after a show’s initial telecast — ABC leap-frogged CBS for second place in adults 18-49.
It also opened up a bigger lead on its rivals in non-sports numbers, with its average through Tuesday (2.1/6, even with last year) putting it half a ratings point ahead of the 1.6/5 rating for both CBS (down 16%) and NBC (down 6%). Fox ran fourth (1.3/4), down 19% from last year, and Univision (1.1/3) was fifth.
While ABC doesn’t get a boost from NFL ratings like its rivals, it does benefit in November from the three-hour telecasts of both the “CMA Awards” and the “American Music Awards.” But it wouldn’t have finished on top in non-sports numbers without impressive performances from its entertainment series.
The Alphabet has the season’s hottest new series in drama “How to Get Away With Murder,” which has been virtually matching its big “Scandal” lead-in on Thursday nights and pulling ahead in DVR playback. The shows, along with “Grey’s Anatomy” in its new leadoff position on the night, helped ABC win all four Thursdays in adults 18-49 in a November sweep for the first time in at least 23 years (pre-dating the 1991 start of Nielsen’s electronic database).
And while rival nets have struggled to get anything going in comedy of late, ABC has garnered good numbers Wednesday night with newcomer “Black-ish.” And “The Goldbergs” has blossomed into the the best-looking sophomore half-hour, building on its “The Middle” lead-in by an average of 20% and outperforming last year’s “Back in the Game” by more than 40%.
In between the two young comedies, “Modern Family” (TV’s No. 2-rated laffer) seems to have been revitalized in its sixth season.
Overall, ABC could claim six of the top 15 broadcast entertainment series in 18-49. That list includes Sunday’s “Once Upon a Time,” whose “live plus same-day” average in November was up about 25% from last year.
NBC had broadcast’s No. 1 overall series in 18-49 with “Sunday Night Football,” but was hurt some by airing “The Blacklist” only two times. Also, the decline of “The Voice” was noticeable and it had a trickle-down effect since it occupied about 15% of the net’s schedule.
A standout for NBC is “Chicago Fire,” which on average beat its broadcast drama competition in the Tuesday 10 p.m. hour and helped kickstart a two-night, three-show crossover event that helped bring season highs for Wednesday’s “Law & Order: SVU” and “Chicago PD.”
CBS once again had primetime’s No. 1 comedy in “The Big Bang Theory” as well as the most-watched entertainment series in “NCIS.” Its declines are due in part to the loss of Monday anchor “How I Met Your Mother” as well as the clunker that was the “Hollywood Film Awards,” which occupied one full Friday night (0.5/2 in 18-49).
Among newbies, “NCIS: New Orleans” and “Scorpion” have both performed about as well as can be expected. And Sunday’s “Madam Secretary,” while a modest performer in adults 18-49, has done well in adults 25-54 and its upscale skew has made it both a good fit with “The Good Wife” as well as attractive to advertisers.
Fox had a rough November, with rookies “Red Band Society,” “Gracepoint” and “Mulaney” all averaging less than a 1.0 same-night rating for the month.
On the plus side, “Gotham” has lived up to its early promise — ranking No. 2 among all new series in 18-49 — and been one of the steadiest performers of the past six weeks. And “MasterChef Junior” has helped improve Tuesday’s opening hour.
CW held steady in adults 18-49 for the month (0.6/2) while edging up in total viewers. Tuesday newcomer “The Flash” has become the net’s top-rated new show since “The Vampire Diaries” in 2009.
NOVEMBER SWEEP STANDINGS
(All programming; live plus same-day through Nov. 25)
NBC 2.3/7 (down 12% from last year)
ABC 2.0/6 (even)
CBS 1.8/6 (down 18%)
Fox 1.3/4 (down 24%)
CW 0.6/2 (even)
CBS 9.69 million (down 5%)
NBC 8.26 million (down 1%)
ABC 7.94 million (up 1%)
Fox 3.87 million (down 22%)
CW 1.62 million (up 4%)
Looking at Tuesday’s ratings action, “Dancing With the Stars” averaged a 2.9 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 15.8 million viewers overall from 9 to 11 p.m. to stand as the No. 1 show on the night in both categories. It was up half a ratings point in 18-49 and about 2 million total viewers ahead of its year-ago finish for the show’s top-rated finish to a cycle since the fall of 2012.
And in total viewers, no unscripted telecast has done a better number since an episode of “The Voice” last February.
Elsewhere, CBS placed second on the night, with “NCIS” (2.4/8 in 18-49, 15.7 million viewers overall) pulling ahead of NBC’s “The Voice” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 9.2 million viewers overall) in 18-49 for the first time. Last week, the music contest won by a tenth, but it came down a few more tenths last night to hit the show’s lowest firstrun rating of the season.
“NCIS,” like “The Voice,” was down from last week as both shows may have been impacted by ABC’s special “Dancing With the Stars: Road to the Finals” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 11.25 million viewers overall). “NCIS: New Orleans” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 14.2 million viewers overall) was able to match last week’s number, and “Person of Interest” was up (1.7/5 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall) to edge ahead of NBC’s “Chicago Fire” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 6.0 million viewers overall).
The 9 p.m. comedy battle between Fox and NBC was a tight one, with the former having the demo edge both with “New Girl” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall) over “Marry Me” (series-low 1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall) and “The Mindy Project” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall) over “About a Boy” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall).
Fox’s “MasterChef” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall) was down a tick at 8, and CW’s “The Flash” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.4 million viewers overall) and “Supernatural” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.2 million viewers overall) were on par with last week.
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 2.6/8; CBS, 2.1/7; NBC, 1.6/5; Fox, 1.3/4; CW and Univision, 1.1/3; Telemundo, 0.5/2.
In total viewers: ABC, 14.3 million; CBS, 12.9 million; NBC, 6.2 million; Fox, 3.3 million; CW and Univision, 2.8 million; Telemundo, 1.3 million.