July 16, 2012

Broadcast Weekly & Summer Averages: FOX Edges Up Versus Last Year; NBC In Freefall

Big Brother’s second episode aired last night, scoring a preliminary 2.2 rating with Adults 18-49.  Although it was the top-rated broadcast program Sunday night (and the only network program to top a 2.0 rating Sunday), last night’s episode was down three-tenths of a rating point from the comparable episode last summer.  More detail on Sunday night’s ratings in the Network Scorecard later this morning.  Cable ratings for HBO’s True Blood, the struggling Newsroom, and the season premiere of Breaking Bad (on DISH-less AMC) as they become available.  But first, a look at the weekly and summer-to-date numbers for the broadcasters.

Based on fast nationals for Friday-Sunday and official national ratings for Monday-Thursday, the broadcast networks combined for a 5.23 combined 18-49 rating in prime time from July 9-15, 7% below the 43rd week last year — not a horrible decline in the context of most of this year.  However, the summer to date remains 10% behind last summer’s pace collectively for the broadcast networks.  The averages mask distinct differences between the networks: FOX is actually having a decent summer, while NBC continues to be knocked around in advance of the Olympics.

Adult 18-49 Rating (4 Nets)
2011-12 2010-11 % Change This Year’s Dates Week #
This Week 5.23 5.62 -7% (Jul 9-15) 43
Summer to date 5.56 6.17 -10% (May 28-Jul 15) 37-43
Season to date 8.65 9.17 -5.7% (Sep 19-Jul 15) 1-43

With continued relative strength from Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef and So You Think You Can Dance (as well as Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game), FOX won a second week in a row (1.73 rating) — but even more impressively the week was actually UP 5% from the same week last year.  Although the All-Star Game was near historic lows this year, as a live sporting event it still towers above nearly everything else last week.

The Olympics can’t come fast enough for NBC, which plunged to fourth place this week (1.10 rating), down 19% from the same week last year (the biggest year over year decline this week among the broadcasters).  America’s Got Talent has fueled the decline of NBC’s summer schedule.  Last year during this week, AGT convincingly beat the All-Star Game (4.0 to 3.1), but this year AGT sank below the All-Star Game (losing 2.8 to 3.2).

Adult 18-49 Rating by Network
Current Week ABC CBS FOX NBC 4-Net
July 11-17, 2011 1.28 1.33 1.65 1.36 5.62
July 9-15, 2012 1.25 1.14 1.73 1.10 5.23
 % change -2% -14% +5% -19% -7%
Summer to Date
May 30-Jul 17, 2011 1.85 1.15 1.48 1.69 6.17
May 28-Jul 15, 2012 1.64 1.05 1.46 1.41 5.56
 % change -11% -8% -2% -17% -10%

With the arrival of Big Brother, CBS averaged a 1.14 rating (up from a 0.93 last week and 0.98 the week before, but still down 14% from the same week last year).  Big Brother gave CBS some badly needed rating points this week, yet the reality show is pacing behind last year’s numbers.  (Thursday’s premiere scored a 2.6 this week compared to a 2.8 last year, while Sunday’s episode is a preliminary 2.2 versus a 2.5 last year).

ABC was the most consistent this week, averaging a 1.25 for the week, down only 2% from the same week last year.  However, the summer to date average for ABC continues to come back down to Earth as the impact of the NBA Finals has a reduced impact on the summer rating with each passing week.

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.