And on the Seventh Week, They Tested: Broadcast Network Breakdown
By Billie Gold, VP, director of buying/programming research at Carat -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/16/2012 3:16:21 PM
ABC is down 13% in viewers and 12% in adults 18-49 so far this season. Dancing With the Stars, its huge ratings driver, is down double-digits this season with its All-Star edition going 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 really break out. ABC's big hope for the season-Nashville-has gotten positive buzz, but ratings are 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. In addition, ABC's Sunday night lineup of Once Upon a Time and Revenge (which leads into 666 Park Avenue) are still attracting adults 18-49, but last week all hit season lows in the ratings.
CBS is having a rough season, despite its No. 1 status in households and total viewers. While still at the top of the heap, the Eye Network is down 7% in total viewers and a significant 21% in adults 18-49 versus last season.
The network has been hurt by a number of factors. Its powerful Monday and Tuesday lineups were eaten into 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 the weak comedy Partners that has hurt its whole night.
In addition, returning show Hawaii Five-0 has been 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, two new dramas, Elementary and Vegas, are doing well and have garnered early full-season renewals while The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Person of Interest remain strong.
This is one of the worst starts Fox has had in many seasons, with ratings down between 17%-29% depending on the demo. Ratings for The X Factor have fallen from last season despite the addition of Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, while MLB postseason primetime ratings declined by double-digits this season.
Fox has seen losses to almost all its returning shows, while new comedies Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project (both with full-season orders) are only doing low-to-moderate ratings (but do get a lot of DVR recorded viewing). Fox's Sunday night of animation is also leaking viewers and new Monday drama The Mob Doctor is just waiting for the ax to swing.
In addition, Fox has pushed back the premiere of the second season of Touch because it feels it needs more time to promote it. But there's good news for the network on the horizon: American Idol is coming back in first-quarter with a supposed war between new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. That might be just the revival the network needs!
NBC has moved from fourth to first in adults 18-49 thanks to the addition of ratings powerhouse The Voice (3 hours a week), a strong football season and the breakout of its new adventure drama Revolution.
This is the first time in 10 years that NBC has found itself in this position. 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 Tuesdays, and to Revolution on Mondays.
Despite its envious position as the only network with gains (up 11% in viewers and 16% in adults 18-49), and sitting as the No. 1 network in the demo, NBC still has big holes in its schedule. Its Thursday night lineup 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) have been ratings flops, dragging down Law & Order: SVU to all-time low levels and giving new drama Chicago Fire no ratings embers to grow from. The Peacock still gave Chicago Fire a full-season renewal, however.
When first quarter rolls around and NBC doesn't have Sunday Night Football and The Voice takes a break, the network may see a reversal of fortunes.
While the network started its new season late (and thus ratings are way down when compared on a same-week basis to last season's earlier start), it seems that The CW 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 network and there is high anticipation for The Carrie Diaries, which will be joining the schedule in midseason.
The bad news is that new drama Emily Owens, M.D. has been 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 perhaps the show will "point it" in the right direction.
Now...about that "surge" in TV viewing that the broadcast networks are touting
The broadcast networks seem hell-bent on brushing off this season's poor primetime performance (based on live-plus-same-day ratings) by saying there's been a surge in DVR viewing. But a look at the Nielsen data shows it's not really a "surge." In fact, it's in line with DVR penetration for primetime versus a year ago-45% this September vs. 42% last September. And while some shows are getting a much bigger DVR lift than others this season, and the networks are understandably touting that, this happens every season.
Comparing cumulative ratings of the Big Four broadcast networks through October 23 of this season to the matching period last season shows that in 2011, live-plus-three-day ratings in the adults 18-49 demo were 17% higher than live-plus-same-day ratings. For 2012, live-plus-three-day ratings in the adults 18-49 demo are 20% higher than live-plus-same-day ratings.
The live-plus-seven-day 18-49 ratings in 2011 were 22% higher than live-plus-same-day ratings in the demo, while in 2012, the live-plus-seven-day ratings are 26% higher than live-plus-same-day ratings. Not exactly a surge.
Is multiple-screen viewing impacting primetime?
While it's true that people are now using multiple screens to access their TV content, primetime HUT (homes using television) levels among households and adults 25-54 are pretty stable versus last season. The HUT level for fourth-quarter 2011 was 62.4 and for fourth-quarter 2012 is 62.7, an increase of 0.48%. The PUT (people using television) level within the 25-54 demo was 41.4 in fourth-quarter 2011 and is 41.0 in fourth-quarter 2012, a decrease of just 0.97%.
The usage levels have declined a bit more in the adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 demos. Among adults 18-49, the PUT level in fourth-quarter 2011 was 37.1 and in fourth-quarter 2012 is 35.9, a decrease of 3.2%. Among adults 18-34, the PUT level in fourth-quarter 2011 was 32.5 compared to 30.7 in fourth-quarter 2012, a decline of 5.5%.
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