December 16, 2013

NIELSENWAR: The End of Fall


With a few scattered exceptions, over the next couple of days the broadcast networks will shut down their regular series for breaks that will range from 2 to 12 weeks, for all intents and purposes ending the “fall” part of the 2013-14 TV season. Let’s see where we are:

Season to Date Averages

Weeks 1-12

Prime time Adult 18-49 Rating (Live+Same Day)


       2013    2012    chg


NBC    2.70    2.75     -1.7%

CBS    2.10    2.36    -11.1%

FOX    2.05    2.12     -3.3%

ABC    1.85    2.04     -9.1%

CW     0.60    0.59     +2.7%

5-Net  9.30    9.86     -5.7%

Note: 2013: 9.23-12.12.2013 official nationals, 12.13-12.14.2013 fast nationals, 12.15.2013 adjusted fast nationals

 2012: 9.24-12.16.2012 official nationals

With the exception of bustling little CW, none of the networks are in very good shape.  Even NBC, buoyed this fall not only by SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL and THE VOICE, but by new hit THE BLACKLIST, is down from last fall–and the Winter Olympics aside, things are likely to get much worse once football season ends.

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of where all the networks stand:

NBC:  High Point–The successful launch of THE BLACKLISTLow Point–Everything airing on Wednesday and Thursday nights.  Scary Point–Post-football Sundays, especially since both the new CRISIS and BELIEVE are experiencing major behind-the-scenes tumult.

ABC:  High Point–Nothing really, but SHARK TANK is a winner on low-rated Fridays.  Low Point–The continuing implosion of AGENTS OF SHIELD.  Scary PointMODERN FAMILY, ONCE UPON A TIME, NASHVILLE and REVENGE are all headed downward.

CBS:  High Point–THE BIG BANG THEORY is the highest rated scripted series on broadcast television.  LOW POINT–Take your pick among the network’s new shows:  the underwhelming MOM, THE MILLERS, or THE CRAZY ONES, or the flat-out disaster of HOSTAGES.  SCARY POINT–There’s only one show announced for midseason, and INTELLIGENCE is going head-to-head with THE BLACKLIST.

FOX:  High PointSLEEPY HOLLOW was going strong, at least until ALMOST HUMAN became its lead-in.  Low PointTHE X FACTOR has collapsed faster and deeper than anyone imagined possible.  SCARY POINT–The season will be a flat-out disaster if AMERICAN IDOL continues its tumble from last season.

CW:  High Point–THE ORIGINALS launched beautifully, giving the network a new hit with an identity separate from its VAMPIRE DIARIES forebear.  Low Point–Bringing back THE CARRIE DIARIES and BEAUTY & THE BEAST was a waste of corporate resources for no good reason.  SCARY POINT–Neither of the midseason dramas look very strong.

Week by Week Prime time Averages


2013 Season — Last Five Weeks

 Adult 18-49 Rating (Live+Same Day)


      Wk8    Wk9    Wk10   Wk11   Wk12


NBC   2.79   2.57   2.88   3.07   2.17

CBS   1.90   1.91   2.26   1.71   1.97

FOX   2.01   2.00   1.21   2.34   1.88

ABC   1.63   2.32   1.44   1.63   1.49

CW    0.75   0.61   0.50   0.70   0.47


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."