July 30, 2012

Broadcast Network Weekly & Summer Averages: The Amazing Power of 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 23-29 of course goes to NBC by a mile — but the network’s weekly average this past week is just a taste of things to come.

NBC averaged a 1.6 rating with Adults 18-49 this past week in the four days leading up to the Summer Olympics, but over the weekend the network has averaged a 10.9 rating with the Opening Ceremony on Friday and the first two nights of competition Saturday and Sunday.  For the week, NBC is over a 5.7 rating, up over 350% from the same week last summer.  It will be difficult to stay in double digit ratings over the course of this coming week (July 30-August 5) given normal Olympic viewing trends (some nights will be well over a 10 rating and some will be an 8 or 9), but London is exceeding expectations so anything is possible.

Adult 18-49 Rating by Network
This Week vs Last Year ABC CBS FOX NBC 4-Net
July 25-31, 2011 1.33 1.32 1.59 1.26 5.49
July 23-29, 2012 0.98 1.06 1.44 5.73 9.21
 % change -26% -20% -9% +356% +68%
Summer to Date
May 30-Jul 31, 2011 1.73 1.19 1.50 1.59 6.01
May 28-Jul 29, 2012 1.55 1.06 1.45 1.86 5.92
 % change -11% -11% -3% +17% -2%

ABC and CBS really took it on the chin given the Olympic competition, down 20% or more each from the same week last year.  Not surprising, though, given the strength of the Olympics and the additional repeat hours the networks aired against London.

FOX had a relatively good week, down only 3% from the same week last year because their strongest nights of the week (Monday and Tuesday) did not face Olympic competition last week.  That is not the case this week.  The Gordon Ramsay shows are in repeats tonight and tomorrow, and FOX should be down to around a 1 rating  this coming week, like ABC and CBS.

For the week, the broadcast networks combined for a 9.21 Adult 18-49 rating in prime time from July 23-29, up 68% from the 45th week of the season last year.  Only three Olympic days managed to lift the four-network summer average almost to last summer’s level (down only 1.6% off last summer’s pace now after being around 10% behind the last few weeks).

Adult 18-49 Rating (4 Nets)
2011-12 2010-11 % Change This Year’s Dates Week #
This Week 9.21 5.49 +68% (Jul 23-29) 45
Summer to date 5.92 6.01 -1.6% (May 28-Jul 29) 37-45
Season to date 8.58 9.01 -4.7% (Sep 19-Jul 29) 1-45

The power of sports television — even mostly taped coverage with results available instantly almost everywhere — is simply astounding.

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.