How'm I Doin'?-Breaking Down the Broadcast Networks . . . So Far
By Billie Gold, VP, director of buying/programming research at Carat -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/30/2012 2:24:04 PM
ABC was down 12% in total viewers and down 16% in adults 18-49 through four weeks this season. Dancing With The Stars, the network's huge ratings driver, is down double-digits this season with its All-Star edition, having to go head-to-head with NBC's megahit The Voice, which was moved into fourth-quarter.
Returning shows have also dipped in the ratings while new shows The Neighbors and Last Resort have failed to break out. The net is having slightly more luck with Nashville, which has gotten positive buzz, but ratings were a bit lower than had been hoped for, and new show 666 Park Avenue, which started strong, continues to scare away viewers week-to-week. ABC also announced that Private Practice will be ending in first-quarter.
On the positive front, ABC's Sunday night lineup of Once Upon A Time and Revenge are still attracting adults 18-49 and getting buzz, despite losses in ratings versus last season.
CBS, considered the most stable network, is having a rough season, despite its No. 1 status in total viewers. While still at the top of the heap, the eye network is down 11% in total viewers and down 17% in adults 18-49 versus last season.
CBS has been hurt by a number of factors. The network's powerful Monday and Tuesday line-ups were hurt by the addition of NBC's The Voice, plus it had to contend with comparisons to last season's huge numbers for the entrance of Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men. The premiere of Men last season drew over 27 million viewers and pumped ratings for all the shows on the night. This season, the declining show was moved to Thursdays and CBS replaced it with a weak comedy, Partners, which hurt its whole night.
In addition, returning show Hawaii 5-0 was washed up this season against NBC's new hit Revolution, while new Friday night drama Made in Jersey was the first cancellation of the season. Still, new dramas Elementary and Vegas seem to be keepers and The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Person of Interest remain strong.
This is one of the worst starts Fox has had in many seasons. Ratings for The X Factor fell from last season despite the addition of judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, while baseball ratings have fallen by double-digits this season.
Fox has seen losses for almost all of its returning shows, while new comedies Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project (both with full-season orders) are only doing moderate ratings (but get a lot of DVR-recorded viewing).
Fox's Sunday night of animation is also leaking viewers, while new drama The Mob Doctor is just waiting for the axe to swing. In addition, Fox has pushed back the premiere of the second season of Touch as it feels it needs more time to promote it. The good news for the network-American Idol is coming back in first-quarter with a supposed war between new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, so that might bring the network back to life.
What a difference a year makes. NBC has moved from fourth to first (in adults 18-49) in one swoop thanks to the addition of ratings powerhouse The Voice (3 hours a week), a strong NFL season and the breakout of its new adventure drama Revolution.
The Voice has helped NBC's schedule as a whole by supplying a healthy lead-in to new shows Go On and The New Normal on Tuesday, as well as Revolution on Monday.
Despite its envious position as the only network with gains (up 12.5% in viewers and 16.7% in adults 18-49), and sitting as the No. 1 network in adults 18-49, NBC still has big holes in its schedule. Its Thursday night line-up is tanking and Wednesday's new comedies Animal Practice (already cancelled) and Guys With Kids (should be cancelled but it's by Jimmy Fallon and Lorne Michaels...well you get it) are ratings flops, dragging Law & Order: SVU down to all-time low levels and giving new drama Chicago Fire no ratings embers to grow from.
When first-quarter rolls around and NBC doesn't have football and The Voice takes a break, NBC may see a reversal of fortunes.
While the network started its season late (and thus ratings are way down versus last season's earlier start), it seems that the fledgling network has a possible hit on its hands with new drama Arrow, which already received a full-season order.
Beauty and the Beast is also doing okay for The CW and there is high anticipation for The Carrie Diaries, which will be joining the schedule in midseason.
The bad news: New drama Emily Owens M.D. is pretty much DOA (despite getting an additional script order), while most returning shows are down. Still, Arrow has breathed some life into the network and maybe it will lead it "pointed" in the right direction.
The biggest shocker: On the traditionally young-skewing CW, Arrow has a median age audience of 46.3 while Emily Owens M.D. has a median age audience of 51.4.
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