As everyone knew they would, CBS has taken the top spots for the 2012-2013 TV season for the first time in over 20 years. However, ABC topped adults 18-49 for the final full week of the season and is tied for top spot in the May sweep.
Strong showings from veterans NCIS and The Big Bang Theory, sporting events like the NCAA Tournament and The Masters plus airing the Super Bowl this year, put CBS on top for the season in both viewers and among adults 18-49 for the first time since 1991-1992. With just a couple of days until the season wraps, that breaks Fox’s eight consecutive season hold on the prized demo.
There were a numbers of factors that contributed to Fox slipping into second place among adults 18-49 but certainly the network was plagued by a sharp more than 20% decline for American Idol, which hit an all time finale low last week. Add to that disappointing X-Factor season 2 numbers, Mob Doctor cratering, a lack of traction among its comedies, a lackluster baseball post-season and plethora of preemptions in the fall and Fox was lucky it was muscular enough to only tumble to second place. For all that change, some things have stayed the same. This season is the second year in a row that sees ABC in the fourth place spot despite a second-season surge for Scandal, which was more than offset by a declining Dancing With The Stars and soft freshman series. With a rare November sweep win pushed by NFL Sunday Night Football and The Voice and then a terrible winter that saw it fall behind Univision for the first time, NBC also ended up again in third place among adults 18-49. This season’s results also see CBS as the first network to simultaneously top viewership and the key demo since Fox took the double Gold back in 2007-2008, the year of the writers’ strike. CBS’s victory this year was in part due to the network running Super Bowl XXLVII but as Les Moonves has bragged and other networks concede, CBS would have won the demo even without the big game this year as its schedule was the only one to deliver multiple night victories week after week. Having said that, the Super Bowl moves over to Fox next year so we could see a swing result from this year in the key demo. In terms of its viewership win, CBS was easily No. 1 this season with a 4 million spread between it and second place ABC in total viewers. That’s the biggest total viewership difference between the two top nets since the 1988-1989 season.
BROADCAST NETWORK PRIMETIME RATINGS
SEPT. 24, 2012 TO MAY 19, 2013
1. CBS 2.9/8 (Down 3% from 2011-2012 season)
2. FOX 2.5/7 (Down 22% from 2011-2012 season)
3. NBC 2.4/7 (Down 4% from 2011-2012 season
4. ABC 2.2/6 (Down 8% from 2011-2012 season)
5. Univision 1.5/4 (Even with 2011-2012 season)
5. CW 0.7/2 (Down 13% from 2011-2012 season)
1. CBS 11.85M (Up 1% from 2011-2012 season)
2. ABC 7.85M (Down 6% from 2011-2012 season)
3. FOX 7.06M (Down 21% from 2011-2012 season
4. NBC 6.96M (Down 6% from 2011-2012 season)
5. Univision 3.7M (Up 2% from 2011-2012 season)
6. CW 1.780M (Up 4% from 2011-2012 season)
1. CBS 3.8/9 (Down 3% from 2011-2012 season)
2. FOX 2.9/7 (Down 19% from 2011-2012 season)
3. NBC 2.8/7 (Down 3% from 2011-2012 season)
4. ABC 2.8/7 (Down 10% from 2011-2012 season)
5. CW 0.8/2 (Even with 2011-2012 season)
1. CBS: 56.2 (Up from 55.6 in 2011-2012)
2. ABC: 53.2 (Up from 52.3 in 2011-2012)
3. NBC: 49.5 (Up from 49.3 in 2011-2012)
4. FOX: 46.6 (Up from 46.2 in 2011-2012)
5. CW: 41.7 (Up from 37.1 in 2011-2012)
6. Univision: 39 (Up from 36 in 2011-2012)
CBS may have won the season but it got knocked off the top demo spot for the final full week and was matched by ABC among adults 18-49 in the May sweep. Fueled by strong results from Modern Family, Shark Tank, the Billboard Awards and a series high for Scandal, Week 34 of the season saw ABC take the demo prize for Week 34 of the 2012-2013 season. That result saw ABC becoming the first network to beat Fox during the Idol finale week since 2003. With ABC’s rise of 5% in the demo over the previous frame and a 2.0/6 result, Fox (1.9/6) remained in second place while CBS and NBC tied for the third spot with a 1.7/5, according to Nielsen. The CW stayed even with Week 33 with a 0.5/2. That’s the best ABC has done in the key demo since the 3.4 it got during the week of February 18 to 24 when it broadcasted the Academy Awards and the 2.1 it received during the week starting November 26 last year.
Unlike the full season, the May sweep is a tight race in the core demo. With Monday’s ratings taken into account, ABC and CBS are essentially matched with a 1.8 rating for No. 1 with two more nights to go in the 25-night period that started on April 25. CBS has a 1.8/6 with ABC garnering a 1.8/5 among adults 18-49. Fox and NBC are tied for a close second with a 1.7/5 each. Unlike the other broadcast nets who are down double digits from last year’s sweep, NBC is actually even with its May 2012 result right now. And those numbers could see some shifts in the rankings with the Dancing With The Stars season finale on ABC tonight and the Modern Family season finale on Wednesday, a live Voice results show on NBC, the second week of a new season of So You Think You Can Dance on Fox and CBS showing NCIS and NCIS: LA repeats
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.