In a summer that saw Americans deluged by a record number of first-run scripted viewing options on broadcast, cable and elsewhere, many flocked instead to their tried-and-true reality favorites — and that helped buoy the broadcast networks overall.

Veteran series like NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and “American Ninja Warrior” and ABC’s “The Bachelorette” impressively showed gains vs. last year while CBS’ “Big Brother” held steady and Fox’s “MasterChef” stayed in the top 10, according to Nielsen estimates.

More recent additions like “Celebrity Family Feud,” “Battle Bots” and “Bachelor in Paradise” on ABC, “I Can Do That” on NBC and “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” on the CW also pitched in.

Scripted series took a backseat, with only four dramas or comedies among summer’s top 20 broadcast shows: Fox’s “Wayward Pines” and CBS’ “Under the Dome,” “Zoo” and “The Big Bang Theory” (in repeats). “Wayward” wasn’t a strong performer in same-night viewing, but big DVR tune-in helped vault it into the top 10.

“Zoo,” the No. 2-rated new drama series in 18-49, finishes as summer’s most-watched scripted newcomer overall.

Unlike their cable brethren, the English-language broadcast networks held up well this summer. The combined five-net ABC-CBS-NBC-Fox-CW average in adults 18-49 (5.2 rating/19 share) was just about on par with last year during the same weeks (5.3/19), and total viewership held steady at 20.9 million.

ABC and NBC were tied in “most current” adults 18-49 averages for the May 25-Aug. 30 summer session with a 1.4 rating/5 share, with the former up vs. last year. They were followed by Fox (1.1/4), CBS (1.0/4) and CW (0.3/1). CBS led in total viewers (5.7 million), and was followed by NBC (5.4 million), ABC (5.1 million), Fox (3.6 million) and CW (1.1 million).

At the Spanish-language networks, Telemundo, powered by strong 10 p.m. super series “El Senor de los Cielos,” pulled into its most competitive summer finish to date relative to Univision in adults 18-49 (0.6 vs. 0.7).


(Most current; May 25-Aug. 30, 2015)

Adults 18-49
1.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 3.0/11
2.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 2.6/9
3.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 2.5/10
3.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 2.5/9
3.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 2.5/9
6.  Celebrity Family Feud (ABC), 2.4/9
7.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 2.2/8
7.  Wayward Pines (Fox), 2.2/8
9.  MasterChef (Fox), 2.0/8
10.  Bachelor in Paradise-Monday (ABC), 1.8/7
10.  I Can Do That (NBC), 1.8/7
12.  Last Comic Standing (NBC), 1.7/6
12.  Battlebots (ABC), 1.7/6
12.  Under the Dome (CBS), 1.7/6
12.  Hell’s Kitchen (Fox), 1.7/5
16.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 1.6/7
16.  Bachelor in Paradise-Sunday (ABC), 1.6/5
16.  Zoo (CBS), 1.6/5
19.  Dateline (NBC), 1.5/6
19.  Hollywood Game Night (NBC), 1.5/6

Total Viewers
1.  America’s Got Talent-Tuesday (NBC), 12.49
2.  Celebrity Family Feud (ABC), 9.40
3.  Zoo (CBS), 8.86
4.  NCIS-r (CBS), 8.18
5.  60 Minutes (CBS), 8.14
6.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 8.09
7.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 7.61
8.  NCIS: New Orleans-r (CBS), 7.50
9.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 7.40
10.  Under the Dome (CBS), 7.32
11.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 7.32
12.  Dateline-Thursday (NBC), 7.28
13.  Big Brother-SUnday (CBS), 7.22
14.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 7.15
15.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 6.22
16.  Extant (CBS), 6.14
16.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 6.14
18.  I Can Do That (NBC), 6.12
19.  MasterChef (NBC), 6.04
19.  48 Hours-Tuesday (CBS), 6.04

Source: Nielsen (minimum four airings)