With the Summer Olympics on NBC winning a gold medal with
viewers in primetime, the third quarter was a tough one for its broadcast and
NBC's ratings were up 79% in primetime among adults 18 to
49, according to preliminary Nielsen figures compiled by Turner Broadcasting.
Taking out the Olympics, NBC's ratings were still up 5% from the prior year,
providing a potent promotional platform heading into the new TV season.
NBC's gains were big enough to put the Big 4 broadcasters in
positive territory, despite drops at the other networks. ABC was down 29%, CBS
was down 24% and Fox was down 11%.
Total TV viewing was up from the last summer Olympic year at
33.3 hours per week, compared to 32.5 hours in 2008, according to Turner. But
live viewing was down to 30.8 hours vs. 31 hours in 2008. Last year, total
viewing was 33 hours, with 30.6 taking place live.
The summer is usual a time for cable to shine, but because
of the Olympics, 10 of the top 11 cable networks were down from a year ago. USA
was number one, but down 16% from a year ago. The only gainer, TBS, was No. 2,
up 36% from a year ago, thanks largely to high ratings from The Big Bang Theory.
Overall ratings for ad-supported cable networks were down 5%
in the quarter among adults 18 to 49.
It was a particularly tough quarter for several of Viacom's
networks. Nickelodeon was down 25% among kids 2 to 11 and 23% among kids 6 to
11. In primetime among adults 18 to 34,
MTV was down 46%. Among adults 18-49,
Comedy Central was down 22%, CMT
was down 4% Nick at Nite was down 47%
BET was down 2%. Resurgent VH1 was up 18%.