Nellie Andreeva

Fox closed out a record eighth consecutive broadcast season as the No.1 network among adults 18-49 but the race was more competitive than recent years, with Fox’s juggernaut American Idol shedding a third of its ratings from last season and Fox only overtaking CBS at the top spot in the final stretch of the season. Fox was helped by 40 hours of The X Factor, which, while not a breakout, was very consistent, and newcomer New Girl.

With help from the Super Bowl and Sunday Night Football, which dethroned American Idol as the highest-rated series this season, NBC squeaked past ABC to rank No.3 outright among adults 18-49 for the first time in eight years. NBC and CBS were the only English-language broadcast networks to post year-to-year growth both in 18-49 and total viewers. Of those in negative territory, the bleeding was worst for the CW, down 22% in 18-49, 20% in its target 18-34 demographic and 15% in total viewers as the network’s audience continues to migrate to digital platforms. Some of Fox’s declines were due to the fact that the network carried the Super Bowl last season. ABC’s ratings were slightly down despite the network introducing several promising freshmen, including the highest-rated new drama this season, Once Upon A Time, because of a significant ratings erosion for its veteran series, led by Dancing With The Stars.

Related: Full 2011-2012 TV Season Series Rankings

In median age, CBS continues to be the oldest-skewing network at 55.6, followed by ABC, NBC, Fox and CW, which has the youngest audience at 37.1 but aged the most this season. Of the five networks, only NBC slightly trimmed its median age, with the others’ creeping up. Here are the broadcast networks’ standings for the 2010-11 season based on most current ratings:

Adults 18-49 (Rating, % change from 2010-11)

Fox: 3.2 (-9%)
CBS: 3.0 (+3%)
NBC: 2.5 (+9%)
ABC:  2.4 (-4%)
CW:   (0.7) (-22%)

Total Viewers (In millions, % change from 2010-11)

CBS: 11.7 million (+1%)
Fox: 8.9 million (-9%)
ABC: 8.4 million (-1%)
NBC: 7.4 million (+5%)
CW:  1.7 million (-15%)

Adults 18-34 (Rating, % change from 2010-11)

Fox: 2.7 (-13%)
NBC: 2.0 (+5%)
CBS: 1.9 (Even)
ABC: 1.8 (-5%)
CW:  0.8 (-20%)

Median Age

CBS: 55.6 (up from 55.0)
ABC: 52.3 (up from 51.4)
NBC: 49.3 (down from 49.6)
Fox: 46.2 (up from 45.4)
CW: 37.1 (up from 35.0)

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