July 23, 2012

Broadcast Network Weekly & Summer Averages: Bring on the Olympics

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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Based on fast nationals for Friday-Sunday and official national ratings for Monday-Thursday, the week of July 16-22 looks like ABC and FOX in a tie for first place with CBS and NBC several notches below, fighting to stay out of fourth place.

ABC challenged FOX for first place this week (both networks around a 1.44/1.45 for the week), by winning Sunday handily with a 2.6 nightly rating (thanks to the Bachelorette Finale on a special night) and remaining competitive on Monday night (a second place 1.7 nightly rating).  ABC’s double dose of Bachelorette (2.2 rating Monday 8-10 pm for the penultimate episode, a 3.0 rating for the finale Sunday from 8-10 pm, capped off by the 3.2 rating for the “After the Final Rose” wrap-up special at 10 pm Sunday) allowed the network to have a powerful week to get The Bachelor Pad launched tonight before the Olympics start.  Perhaps one good week of ratings for Pad before some severe disruption in viewing patterns from London.

FOX, as usual, won Monday night with a 2.6 rating for Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef and also won Tuesday with a 2.5 rating with more original episodes of the same lineup.  Two nights of a mid-2 rating provide Fox with quite a strong foundation week in and week out.  FOX’s smartest move is concentrating the Gordon Ramsay programs on a few nights, rather than spreading them more thinly across the week.  FOX also took Wednesday — but with a much smaller 1.8 rating for (So You Think You Can Dance).   

Adult 18-49 Rating by Network
Current Week ABC CBS FOX NBC 4-Net
July 18-24, 2011 1.27 1.37 1.54 1.25 5.42
July 16-22, 2012 1.44 1.15 1.45 1.14 5.18
 % change +14% -16% -6% -9% -4%
Summer to Date
May 30-Jul 17, 2011 1.78 1.17 1.49 1.63 6.08
May 28-Jul 15, 2012 1.62 1.06 1.46 1.37 5.51
 % change -9% -9% -2% -16% -9%

CBS turned in a third place 1.15 rating for the week.  Thursday is The Eye’s best night — it wins the night but with a less than dominant 1.8 nightly rating.  Big Brother was a 2.2 rating last Thursday — not bad compared to all the repeats but well below the 2.6 the show did on the same week last year.  Honorable mention goes to a repeat on CBS Thursday: a 2.5 rating for Big Bang Theory at 8:00.   The second best night of the week for CBS (Wednesday) only averaged a 1.4 last week.  Big Brother on Wednesday scored a 2.0 rating at 8 pm — again not a terrible rating in today’s world, but the rating is wasted by being paired with a couple of 1-rated drama repeats.

NBC came in with a very similar 1.14 rating for the week.  Its strongest night (Tuesday) averaged a 2.2, but its next strongest nights (Monday and Wednesday) could only muster a 1.4 rating.  With America’s Got Talent down significantly (Tuesday’s episode scored a 2.6 versus a 3.2 on the same night last year, while Wednesday’s 2.0 for the live results versus a 2.7 last year), the entire schedule is down 9% from the same week last year and down a more significant 16% for the summer to date.  Bring on the 17-night band-aid from London.

For the week, the broadcast networks combined for a 5.18 combined 18-49 rating in prime time from July 16-22, down only 4% from the 44th week last year.  However, the summer to date remains 9% behind last summer’s pace collectively for the broadcast networks.

Adult 18-49 Rating (4 Nets)
2011-12 2010-11 % Change This Year’s Dates Week #
This Week 5.18 5.42 -4.4% (Jul 16-22) 44
Summer to date 5.51 6.08 -9.3% (May 28-Jul 22) 37-44
Season to date 8.57 9.09 -5.7% (Sep 19-Jul 22) 1-44

Starting Saturday morning (with the fast nationals from Friday night’s Olympic Opening Ceremony), we will track the ratings for the London Summer Games and compare them to previous Games to see if NBC can increase the audience for the fourth Summer Olympiad in row.

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.