Overall ratings may not be thriving, but more wealthy people are watching the major networks this season. So far, 11% more upscale viewers are tuning in to the Big Four, a figure propelled by a huge jump at Fox.
Among 18-to-49 viewers in $100,000-plus homes, rating points are a combined 14.7 compared to a 13.2 last year, according to one measure. That comes as overall ratings for the Big Four are flat at an estimated 12.5, marking a silver lining for networks.
Figures are derived from "live plus seven day" program ratings and do not include specials programming.
The upscale increase comes mostly via Fox, which is up 56% this season to a 3.9 versus a 2.5 last year, with help from new show "Glee."
On the backs of comedies such as "The Office" and football, beleaguered NBC has an upscale spin to take to advertisers -- with ratings up 12.5% from a 3.2 to a 3.6. ABC and CBS are down 5% and 3% -- to a 3.8 and 3.4, respectively.
But each network has a higher concentration of affluent viewers, coveted by advertisers seeking their disposable income.
ABC has posted a 115 index among 18-to-49 viewers in $100,000-plus homes. That means its concentration is 15% higher than what would be found in the general population. For ABC, that's up from a 113 a year ago, and keeps it at the top in the index area.
NBC, which for years dominated the competition in upscale viewers, has a 113 index this year -- up from 112 last fall. Series such as "30 Rock" and "Community" are helping drive up the figure, along with the "The Office."
CBS is also up slightly, to a 102 from a 101. "60 Minutes" is a strong performer. Top shows "CSI:" and "CSI: NY" have indexes below 100, hurting the network-wide figure.
Fox has soared, with its index going from an 88 -- 12% below an average concentration -- to a 106. In addition to "Glee's" high percentage of upscale viewers, the three hours a week of "So You Think You Can Dance" -- which was not on last fall's schedule -- is a contributor.
Although an index only refers to a percentage and not actual viewers, some view it as the most insightful benchmark for upscale performance, partly because an advertiser can receive more affluent viewers per rating point purchased.
There may be a simple reason for the increases. A large percentage of upscale viewers may have DVRs that allow them to watch more TV. Cable news competition is losing appeal, which may be another reason.
Still, the demo may be eager ad-skippers, and "commercial ratings" -- the market currency -- may be down.
Among individual shows this season, ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" has the highest ratings in the upscale demo, while "Glee" has the highest index at 146.
Highest-Rated Upscale Series
"Grey's Anatomy" (9.5), ABC
"House" (7.8), Fox
"The Office" (7.6), NBC
"Sunday Night Football" (7.5), NBC
"Big Bang Theory" (7.2), CBS
"Desperate Housewives" (6.7), ABC
"Private Practice" (6.2), ABC
"Glee" (6.0), Fox
Two and a Half Men" (5.9), CBS
"30 Rock" (5.4), NBC
Upscale Series with Highest Indexes
"Glee" (146), Fox
"30 Rock" (142), NBC
"The Office" (139), NBC
"Community" (131), NBC
"60 Minutes" (129), CBS
"Grey's Anatomy" (129), ABC
"Brothers & Sisters" (127), ABC
"Private Practice" (126), ABC
"How I Met Your Mother" (124), CBS
"Parks & Recreation" (122), NBC