What a difference a week can make if you’re NBC and The Voice is back. Sure CBS has taken the top spot in viewers and the key 18-49 demo for a second week in a row, but for NBC anything is better than the TKOs it’s been receiving. Boosted by the return of its juggernaut reality series for a new season last Monday, the struggling network moved up 33% from the previous frame’s 1.2/3 to a 1.6/5 for Week 27 of the 2012-2013 season. Down from last spring’s Season 2 debut and up from last fall’s Season 3 premiere, The Voice’s Season 4 debut March 25 was the No. 1 show last week among adults 18-49, and the series’ March 26 show was No. 2. With the return after a very long winter break of Revolution, which hit the 15th spot on the Top 20 shows of the week in the demo, NBC actually had its best week in the demo since January 21-27, when it aired the NFL Pro Bowl. With 5.428 million watching last week, NBC had its highest average audience since the week of January 7-13, when the Golden Globes were on. That’s up from the 4.154 million the network had as an average audience for Week 26. Additionally, NBC was the only network to not see a ratings decline from the same period last year and the only one to see a viewership rise; it was even from the week of March 26, 2012 in terms of ratings, and gained 11% in viewership. However, let’s be clear: NBC is off the mat but it isn’t landing many punches just yet outside of Voice. Still, with the previously unsteady Go On and The New Normal getting Voice surges last week and Smash up as well, NBC did manage to tie Fox for third for the week — an improvement over the south-of-Univision position it found itself in last week.
For the week of March 25, CBS drew a 2.3/7 and 9.018 million viewers thanks to strong NCIS and NCIS: LA audience numbers, solid comedy performances and the NCAA Tournament. ABC was second in 18-49 with a 1.7/5 and second in viewers for a second week in a row with 7.112 million. That’s up from the 2.1/6 it earned the week before but down from its 8.449 million audience average during Week 26. NBC and Fox were tied in the demo with 1.6/5 each, while the former inched ahead of the latter in average viewership (5.428 million vs. 5.224 million). That’s down for Fox from the 1.9/6 it had the previous week and also down from the 5.93 million the network pulled in on average in Week 26. The CW got a 0.5/2 and 1.365 million viewers on average last week, down from the 0.6/2 and 1.435 million viewers the network saw the previous week.
For Fox, the network fell below second place in the demo for the first time in nine years in a week with a regular American Idol on the schedule — it finished a tenth behind ABC. The week saw Fox hit a new low on March 28 for a regular Idol telecast, but it also saw the network air nothing but repeats in its Sunday animation block. The Kiefer Sutherland-starring Touch also hit a new low, and there was the lack of new Glee on the schedule.
For the 2012-2013 season to date, CBS remains in the top spots among the Big Four with a 3.0/8 rating in adults 18-49 and 12.137 million viewers on average. Fox is second in the key demo with 2.5/7 and third in viewership with 7.118 million. NBC, which had a great fall before hitting the skids during the early part of this year, are third in 18-49 with a 2.4/7 but fourth in viewership with 7.108 million. ABC is fourth in 18-49 with a 2.3/6 but third in viewership with 7.856 million.
Everyone is down so far from the previous season ratings-wise, with Fox down the most at 24% and CBS down the least at 3%. CBS, NBC and ABC had 22 hours of primetime programming last week, with Fox airing 15 hours.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.