Fox won another TV season, in the viewing metric that matters most to advertisers: 18-49 viewers. But the race was a lot closer, as CBS -- in second place -- came within two-tenths of a rating point.
Fox lost 9% of its 18-49 viewers, looking at Nielsen live-plus-same-day rating data. Most of this came around a 25% drop in ratings of its big “American Idol” franchise. It landed at a 3.2 average rating in prime time. CBS pulled closer, gaining 3% to arrive at a 3.0 number.
NBC picked up 9% to score a 2.5 rating, jumping from its fourth-place position into third after many years. “The Voice” was a major reason, averaging a big 5.2 rating for its performance show -- just two-tenths of a rating point behind “Idol." NBC also had big numbers from “Sunday Night Football” and the Super Bowl to count on. But the network says that even without the Super Bowl, for “regular programming" it was up 4% among 18-49 viewers to a 2.5 rating.
NBC's “Sunday Night Football” eclipsed “Idol” as the No. 1 show among 18-49 viewers -- an 8.0 rating (10.2 million 18-49 viewers). The "Idol" Wednesday performance show was at a 5.4 rating (6.9 million 18-49 viewers); Thursday's results show delivered a 4.7 rating (6.0 million 18-49 viewers).
ABC now sits in fourth place, just one-tenth of a rating point behind NBC at a 2.4 rating. ABC sank 4% versus a year ago. ABC lost ground with its big “Dancing with the Stars” reality competition show.
CW was also down a lot more: 22% to a 0.7% among 18-49 viewers. Even among its more core 18-34 audience, CW took a double-digit percentage dip in ratings -- down 20% to a 0.8 rating. NBC was the only network to gain here, up 5% to a 2.0 rating. Fox still leads among these viewers with a 2.7 rating -- although it was down 10% versus a year ago.
Total viewers came in as expected. CBS still led with a slight 1% improvement over a year ago, to 11.7 million. Fox was at 8.9 million, down 9%; ABC was down 2% to 8.4 million; NBC was up 5% to 7.4 million; and CW lost 15% to 1.7 million.