There are two take-aways from last week’s network ratings. One, boosted by the dependable NCIS, NCIS: LA, CSI and strong NCAA Tournament numbers, CBS is back on top in the 18-49 demographic for the first time since the week ending February 17, when the Grammys were on. Two, the frame marked the calm before the game-changer with The Voice’s return to NBC this week. During the week ending March 24, NBC inched up to 1.2/3 from the previous frame’s 1.1/3 but still took a whooping. It found itself behind Univision among adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 for an eighth week in a row and was down 29% last week from the comparable week in 2012. Of course, with strong numbers from The Voice‘s Season 4 premiere last night, steady results from the just-returned Revolution and the fact that Voice is on tonight as well, the weekly ratings pictures will likely look very different next week.
But until we get there, let’s stick with what we have: With 22 hours of primetime programming and a 2.1/6 in 18-49, CBS averaged 8.449 million viewers over the 26th week of the 2012-2013 season. ABC stepped over Fox to move into the second viewership position with 7.459 million. That’s 1.6 million over Fox and 3.3 million over NBC.
CBS certainly found extra demo strength over the weekend with its portion of the NCAA Tournament. The network nearly tripled its rating Saturday, with a 2.0 compared with the week-earlier 0.7. Fox didn’t so much fall to second place int the demo this week as stay in place. With American Idol the No. 1 show in the demo, the network maintained the 1.9/6 it had the week of March 11. As it had the three weeks before, Fox remained the top network in the 18-34 demo.
Both CBS and Fox were down in the ratings from the comparable week last year by 19% and 14%, respectively. The CW stayed even with its results from the week of March 19, 2012. Season to date, CBS is tops in 18-49 with a 3.0/8 and viewership with an average of 12.212 million. Fox is second among the key demo season to date with a 2.6/7. Thanks to a strong fall, NBC is third overall among English-language networks in the demo with a 2.4/7 and ABC is fourth with 2.3/6. However, ABC is second among total viewership so far this season with 7.849 million. NBC is third with 7.149 million but Fox almost right next to them with 7.142 million.
With the Season 16 debut of Dancing With The Stars as well as the strong series premiere of Splash and surging season finales for comedies Last Man Standing and Malibu Country, ABC gained traction and some good news. The network was up to a 1.8/5 over the 1.7/5 it earned the previous week. It was also up in viewership, rising from an average of 5.823 million for Week 25 to 7.459 million. With the exception of the Oscars last month, this past week resulted in ABC’s most-watched period since the week of November 26. Unlike its fellow networks, ABC was up slightly in 18-49 and in viewership year-over-year: the network saw a 6% rise in the demo and a 9% rise in viewers.
The CW stayed flat ratings-wise but saw a rise (thank you Cult) in viewership to 1.435 million from 1.186 million.
In addition to more The Voice, there’s more NCAA this week plus more Idol eliminations and several finales, so expect the kaleidoscope to be shaken when we’re back here next.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.