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Ratings: NBC Wins Week in Demo, But Can it Catch CBS for the Season?

NBC was back atop the primetime ratings leaderboard last week thanks to the return of “The Voice” and “Blindspot,” as the net begins what it hopes will be a late push to catch — or perhaps overtake — CBS for the season’s biggest bragging-rights prize.

The Peacock, which had a dominant fall before dropping off some during the six weeks without either the NFL or “The Voice” on its schedule, won primetime last week with a 1.5 rating/5 share in adults 18-49, according to same-day Nielsen estimates. It finished comfortably ahead of ABC and CBS (both 1.2/4) as well as Fox (1.1/4).

Through 24 weeks of the season, NBC led CBS by 0.15 (2.49 vs. 2.34/2.5 vs. 2.3 in rounded), as the Super Bowl-boosted Eye tries to hang on and end NBC’s two-year winning streak as top dog among adults under 50. Fox (2.07) and ABC (1.85) rank third and fourth, respectively, with Univision (0.78) and CW (0.77) neck and neck for fifth.

CBS is well on its way to winning in total viewers for the 13th time in 14 seasons, currently leading runner-up NBC by 2.5 million. And in its core demo of adults 25-54, it has a full two-tenths lead over NBC (2.03 to 1.83) and appears headed for a second straight victory.

Looking closer at the 18-49 race, NBC figures to win more weeks than CBS in the final third of the television season, leading to what could be a photo finish when the dust settles on May 25. The Peacock has gotten more production from its rookie class than the Eye this year, with “Blindspot,” “Chicago Med” and “Shades of Blue” all boosting their respective timeslots, and a key this spring will be how NBC fares on Sundays with alternative series “Little Big Shots” followed by comedies “The Carmichael Show” and “Crowded.”

CBS, with a solid but unspectacular rookie class to date, will hope to get a boost from a pair of dramas bowing later this month: “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” on Wednesdays (airing after the original “Minds”), and “Rush Hour” on Thursdays. The series version of the popular comedic-drama cop franchise, “Rush Hour” figures to get plenty of promotion during CBS’ coverage of the March Madness college basketball tournament.

The Eye won’t be airing the basketball championship game this season, though, and that could be a key factor in deciding whether NBC or CBS finishes on top. Last year’s game did a huge 9.1 in 18-49, topping the college football title game on ESPN of two months ago (8.3).

Leading the way during the Feb. 29-March 6 frame for NBC was the two-night premiere of “The Voice,” which dominated its two-hour blocks on both Monday (3.4/11 in 18-49, 13.33 million viewers overall) and Tuesday (3.0/10 in 18-49, 12.29 million viewers overall) despite being down about 20% from the opening nights of its year-ago winter/spring season.

Behind “The Voice” on Monday, the midseason return of “Blindspot” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 6.85 million viewers overall) was down a tenth from its fall finale to a new low but still led its hour. Two nights later, “The Mysteries of Laura” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 7.44 million viewers overall) made its case for renewal as it rose 0.2 week to week for its season finale; it will be replaced on Wednesdays by new medical drama “Heartbeat” starting March 23.

And the Peacock had a good showing from its news division in primetime, including a Tuesday 10 p.m. victory for coverage of Super Tuesday election results (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.88 million viewers overall). “Dateline” also pitched in, winning its time period among the broadcasters with two-hour editions on both Saturday (0.8/3 in 18-49, 4.95 million viewers overall) and Sunday (1.4/4 in 18-49, 5.94 million) — the latter of which was devoted to the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial of 1995.

CBS’ best ratings story last week was a nice 0.3 jump for “Survivor” (2.2/8 in 18-49, 9.24 million viewers overall), which thrived without competition from “American Idol” for the first time this edition. The network again dominated the week’s total-viewer race, claiming nine of the top 15 programs, including the top seven scripted broadcasts.

ABC launched new comedy “The Real O’Neals” to solid-enough numbers with special preview episodes Wednesday behind “The Goldbergs” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 6.33 million viewers overall) and “Modern Family” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.01 million viewers overall). But new Sunday drama “The Family” debuted quietly on Sunday (0.8/2 in 18-49, 3.13 million viewers overall), down sharply from its special Thursday preview episode (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.70 million viewers overall).

Fox welcomed “Gotham” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 4.12 million viewers overall) and “The Last Man on Earth” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.72 million viewers overall) back to the lineup after multi-month hiatuses. The former was in line with its fall average, while the latter was a little lower but still a big improvement over the recent numbers in the timeslot for “Bordertown.”

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” remained the No. 1 series overall in adults 18-49 (6.1 rating, 12.82 million viewers overall), holding steady week to week in the demo and down 12% from its same-day rating on the comparable night a year ago.

Fox News Channel’s Republican debate from Michigan averaged 16.83 million viewers to stand as the most-watched debate of 2016 and rule as the week’s most-watched program overall. The network dominated among cablers for the week in both key demos and total viewers, with its average nightly audience of 4.26 million larger than even sister broadcast network Fox (3.59 million) and not far behind ABC (4.44 million).

E! reality series “I Am Cait” returned Sunday for its second season to a series-low 745,000 same-day viewers, including 411,000 adults 18-49. The Caitlyn Jenner show had started out huge last summer (2.7 million) but fell to about 1.2 million for its first-season finale.

Fox Business Network delivered its highest-rated week ever in business-day averages (162,000 viewers, including 31,000 adults 25-54 from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET). And in the evening, “Lou Dobbs Tonight” (214,000) beat CNBC in total viewers for a sixth straight week.

(Live plus same-day; Feb. 29-March 6, 2016)

Adults 18-49 rating
NBC ………………  1.46 (1.5)
CBS ……………….  1.25 (1.2)
ABC ……………….  1.23 (1.2)
Fox ………………..  1.05 (1.1)
FNC ……………….  0.70
UNI ……………….  0.69
AMC ………………  0.64
TBS ……………….  0.57
USA ………………  0.55
CNN ………………  0.51

Total Viewers (in millions)
CBS ……………….  7.70
NBC ………………  6.37
ABC ………………  4.40
FNC ………………  4.26
Fox ……………….  3.59
CNN ……………..  2.11
UNI ………………  1.84
HGTV ……………  1.63
AMC ……………..  1.60
TBS ……………….  1.55

(Live plus same-day; Feb. 29-March 6, 2016)

Adults 18-49 rating/share
1.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 6.1/18
2.  GOP Michigan Debate (FNC), 3.6/11
3.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 3.4/11
4.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 3.0/10
5.  Modern Family (ABC), 2.6/9
6.  The Bachelor (ABC), 2.5/8
7.  Talking Dead (AMC), 2.3/8
8.  Survivor (CBS), 2.2/8
8.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 2.2/8
10.  The Goldbergs (CBS), 2.1/7
11.  NCIS (CBS), 2.0/7
11.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 2.0/6
13.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 1.9/7
13.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 1.9/6
13.  The Real O’Neals-Wed., 9:30 (ABC), 1.9/6
16.  Life in Pieces (CBS), 1.8/6
16.  The Real O’Neals (ABC), 1.8/6
16.  Blindspot (NBC), 1.8/6
19.  Mom (CBS), 1.7/6
19.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 1.7/5

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  GOP Michigan Debate (FNC), 16.83
2.  NCIS (CBS), 13.33
3.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 13.33
4.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 12.82
5.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 12.28
6.  NCIS: New Orleans (CBS), 11.72
7.  60 Minutes (CBS), 11.44
8.  Madam Secretary (CBS), 10.19
9.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 10.08
10.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 9.32
11.  Survivor (CBS), 9.24
12.  Scorpion (CBS), 9.23
13.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 8.74
14.  Life in Pieces (CBS), 8.39
15.  Modern Family (ABC), 8.22
16.  The Bachelor (ABC), 8.17
17.  Mom (CBS), 7.98
18.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 7.94
19.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 7.66
20.  The Mysteries of Laura (NBC), 7.44

Source: Nielsen 


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