NBC is claiming ratings victory in the 52-week Nielsen season after being knocked from the top spot in the most recent September-May rankings.
With one week remaining in the current 52-week season, NBC is averaging a 2.21 rating among adults 18-49 in Nielsen’s most-current numbers — live ratings plus seven days of playback for most weeks and live-plus-same day for the most recent weeks in which delayed viewing numbers are not yet available. CBS finished second with a 1.86, followed by ABC at 1.73 and Fox at 1.57. Among adults 25-54, NBC averaged a 2.83, followed by CBS at 2.51, ABC at 2.14 and Fox at 1.89.
NBC’s performance was lifted by two weeks of primetime coverage of the Rio Summer Olympics. But while its lead over rival CBS narrows when removing Rio from the accounting, it does not disappear. NBC maintains top position in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos when counting only entertainment programs sans news and live sports.
In total viewers, CBS led all broadcasters, averaging 8.5 million — besting NBC (7.2 million), ABC (6.3 million) and Fox (4.4 million).
NBC issued an announcement to reporters Tuesday touting its ratings victory, part of an effort to shift focus from the traditional September-May broadcast season to the 52-week season. In September-May, CBS finished on top for just the second time in 24 years in the 18-49 demo, ending a two-season run by NBC as the top network in the demo.
Traditionally all broadcast networks have recognized the September-May season as the standard for broad ratings claims. But NBC executives have argued recently that the push toward year-round programming has given greater relevance to the 52-week cycle.
“I would really love you to start focusing on the 52 week season results,” NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told reporters in August at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. “Of course, the 52 week season is really what matters. We all know that, right? Given how important it is to be competitive all throughout the season and into the summer, the old 9 month season still seems to be a little obsolete.”