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MBPT Spotlight: Big Solid Hits Aside, Summer Broadcast Viewership Still Trends Down

7/19/2013 02:22:08 PM Eastern

With the CBS summer breakout scripted drama hit Under the
Dome
averaging about 12 million viewers per episode, and with all the new
programming most of the networks are offering viewers this summer, the
perception might be that broadcast television is having a much better overall season
than it did last summer.

But the five English-language broadcast networks actually have
a ways to go if they want to reach the cumulative viewer average for regularly
scheduled programming that they drew during the hottest months of last year.

For the entire summer of 2012, the five networks cumulatively
averaged 20.1 million viewers per week, while this summer so far they are
cumulatively averaging 18.7 million.

Last summer, The CW averaged 698,000 viewers per week, while
for Fox that number was 4 million, ABC averaged 4.1 million, CBS brought in 5.4
million and NBC averaged 5.9 million for regularly scheduled programming.

This summer through July 14, The CW is up to 748,000
viewers, Fox is averaging 3.4 million viewers, ABC is averaging 4 million, NBC
is averaging 5.2 million and CBS is steady at 5.4 million. Granted, NBC
last summer was helped by its airing of 51 telecasts (first run and repeats) of
the hit series America's Got Talent,
which still has lots of episodes to run this summer that will push up the
network's viewer total.

A look at the Nielsen viewership numbers from last summer
and this summer finds that most of the shows that aired in 2012 are producing similar
numbers so far this time around. And other than Under the Dome, there
are not any new summer breakout hits for any of the other networks.

Here is a network-by-network rundown of primetime broadcast
viewership comparing last summer to this summer.

ABC

The network's highest-rated summer series last year was The
Bachelorette
, which
averaged 7.3 million views and a 2.3 18-49 demo rating. However, this summer, The
Bachelorette
is averaging only 6.1 million viewers and a 1.8 demo rating.

Last summer's singing competition series Duets
averaged 5.4 million and a 1.3 demo rating. This summer's new scripted drama
series Motive has matched that viewer total of 5.4 million but is only
averaging a 1.0 in the demo.

Veteran summer scripted drama Rookie Blue averaged
4.7 million last summer with a 1.2 demo rating. This summer it is averaging 5.6
million viewers and a 1.1 demo rating.

Last summer, ABC had a number of lower viewer-total shows such
as reality series The Glass House (2.4 million viewers), Final
Witness
(3.7 million), Bachelor Pad (4 million) and New York Med (4.1 million). This summer,
it also has some new low-viewed series in reality show Whodunnit? (3.3
million), news show The Lookout (3.6 million) and scripted drama Mistresses
(3.9 million).

A couple of its regular-season series airing in repeat
during the summer are drawing the same number of viewers as last summer. Sitcom
The Middle is averaging 3.8 million viewers, same as last summer, while Modern
Family
is averaging the same 3.9 million. Drama Castle, which like
last summer moved from Monday at 10 p.m. during the regular season to Sunday at
10 p.m., is averaging 2.9 million vs. 2.8 million.

CBS

Other than Big Brother, CBS is not known for doing a
lot of new summer programming because its scripted series, particularly its
dramas, repeat so well. However, this summer its scripted drama Under the
Dome
, based on a novel by Stephen King, has taken broadcast
primetime by storm. In addition to averaging close to 12 million viewers per
episode, it is also averaging close to a 3.0 in the 18-49 demo. Advertisers who
bought into this series well in advance are clearly getting some over-delivery
of viewers.

CBS has put on a few new summer series, including The
American Baking Competition
and Brooklyn DA, which each week lets viewers look at how real cases are
handled. The American Baking Competition
averaged 4.9 million viewers, while Brooklyn DA has averaged 4 million
viewers.

Summer staple Big Brother, which has drawn
controversy after a few of the competitors made racially insensitive,
homophobic and xenophobic comments about other competitors on the show, is
averaging about the same viewership it did last summer.

While the controversy did seem to pull in a few hundred thousand
more viewers, the Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday episodes this summer so far
are cumulatively averaging about the same 6.1 million viewers and 2.1 demo
rating they did last season. Those, however, are still solid numbers for a
summer-only veteran series.

A few of CBS' regular season series in repeats are drawing
more viewers this summer than they averaged last summer. Sitcom The Big Bang
Theory
is averaging 8.6 million viewers compared to last summer's 7.6
million. Drama CSI is averaging 6.4 million compared to 5.7 million,
while drama NCIS is averaging 8.6 million compared to 8.2 million last
summer, and NCIS: Los Angeles is averaging 6.9 million vs. 6.6 million
last summer. Second-year drama Person of Interest is averaging 6.5
million viewers in summer repeats, compared to 6.1 million last summer. Those
viewer totals for series in repeat during the summer are exceptionally good and
higher than many viewer totals for first-run series during the regular season
on other networks.

Fox

Fox in the past few years has not done a lot of new original
summer programming and this summer is no different. However, it does boast
three summer reality series staples that draw decent 18-49 ratings.

Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef, both featuring
Gordon Ramsay, are similar to last summer in viewers and in the demo when their
two one-hour episodes each are cumulated.

Hell's Kitchen in two Thursday night episodes is
averaging 5.3 million viewers and a 2.1 18-49 rating this summer, same as last
summer. MasterChef is down a bit; the series is averaging 5.2 million
viewers and a 2.1 in the demo for its two Wednesday night episodes this summer,
compared to 5.7 and a 2.4 last summer.

Fox's other summer staple series is So You Think You Can
Dance
; this summer it is averaging 4.4 million viewers and a 1.6 18-49
rating, compared to last summer's 5.5 million and 2.0 demo rating. Those
declines are one of the reasons Fox is down in viewers cumulatively so far this
summer.

One thing to remember, however, is that the ratings used herein
for last summer are for the entire summer. Reality competition series
viewership usually grows as the finals get closer, so SYTYCD, as well as Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef could
see their numbers improve before the leaves start to change.

Fox is airing repeats of its returning sitcoms on Monday
nights during the summer, but viewers are not finding them in big numbers. New
Girl
and The Mindy Project are averaging 1.3 million viewers, while Raising
Hope
is drawing about 1.7 million averaging the audience of its two Monday
night telecasts.

NBC

In past summers, America's
Got Talent
dominated NBC's schedule,
and there will be plenty of episodes of that series airing again this summer.
However, NBC has put a bunch of new scripted and reality series on its summer
schedule, including sitcom Camp, game shows The Winner Is... and Hollywood
Game
Night, drama Siberia and
reality series Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls. It also brought back
competition series American Ninja Warrior.

AGT is the clear driver of audience to the network
during the summer and so far it is averaging 11.8 million viewers in first run
on Tuesdays at 8 p.m., 9.9 million viewers in first run on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
and 10.7 million viewers on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Its 18-49 demo ratings on
those nights are between 2.6 and 3.0.

American Ninja Warrior is averaging 5.1 million
viewers and a 1.6 18-49 demo rating, down slightly from 5.3 million and a 1.9
that it averaged last summer.

Camp is averaging 5 million viewers and a 1.5 demo
rating, Hollywood Game Night is averaging 4.3 million and a 1.4, Get
Out Alive with Bear Grylls
is averaging 4.2 million and a 1.5 demo rating, TheWinner Is... is averaging 4 million and a 1.1 and Siberia is averaging 2.8 million and a 1.0.

While NBC is cumulatively averaging 5.2 million viewers per
week, it should be noted that the total is boosted by the network's decision to
carry its regular season hit series The Voice into June, adding several
10 million-per-week episodes to NBC's summer viewer average.

The CW

The CW's most-watched series this summer is repeats of its
freshman drama Arrow. The series is averaging 1.2 million viewers and a
0.4 18-49 demo rating. That's more viewers than any CW series averaged last
summer.

Summer game show Oh Sit! has averaged 787,000 and a
0.3 18-49 rating, compared to 1.1 million viewers and a 0.4 demo rating last
summer.

On a reverse trend, repeats of regular season dramas Supernatural
and Vampire Diaries are drawing slightly more viewers this summer. Supernatural
is averaging 938,000 viewers compared to 797,000 last summer, while Vampire
Diaries
is averaging 784,000, compared to 672,000 viewers last summer.

This week, The CW premiered the former ABC hit
improvisational comedy series Whose Line Is It Anyway? and in
back-to-back half-hours it averaged close to 3 million viewers per episode and
a 1.2 18-49 demo rating. Those are big numbers for a summer series on The CW.
It bears watching to see if viewers come back next week. If they do, The CW
could have itself a nice hit.

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