It’s all a question of timing. CBS announced last week that TV’s new summer season ended Aug. 12, right before NBC kicked off the Olympic Games. While there has been much hoopla about year-round scheduling and the new crop of summer programming, most networks have little to celebrate.
Out of the six broadcast networks, only CBS is up summer-to-summer, boasting 4% increases in adults 18-49 and viewers and a 3% increase in adults 25-54, and that with a lineup without new shows and with strong performances from repeats of shows like C.S.I. and Everybody Loves Raymond.
NBC is down 14% in its target 18-49 demo, although it still managed to win the pre-Olympics summer by a scant one-tenth of a rating point over rival CBS.
NBC’s lead should increase substantially, however, once the Olympics are factored in.
Fox, which called its new summer programming a “revolution,” may have to call in some reinforcements. It is down 12% summer-to-summer in the 18-49 demo. ABC, meanwhile, has stayed flat in the demo.
It's even tougher over at The WB and UPN, which are down 17% and 23%, respectively, in their key adult 18-34 demo, though The WB has to pleased with the performance of Blue Collar TV.
Those red figures on the broadcast side have apparently benefitted basic cable, which is up 10% among viewers, 9% in adults 18-49 and 8% in adults 25-54.
Basic cable’s gain is premium cable’s loss, though, which saw a 6% drop in viewers, a 9% drop in adults 18-49 and a 12% in adults 25-54.
Still broadcast and cable networks have both had some hits. Surprisingly, scripted shows have done the trick for cable, while The WB’s Summerland is the only new scripted show that scored a hit for its broadcast network.
For a show-by-show rundown of the ups and downs of summer, check out the Aug. 16 issue of B&C.