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Lies, Damn Lies and Les Moonves: CBS Most-Watched No More

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February 28th, 2008

FOX, Not CBS, is the Most-Watched Network

Les Moonves

3/2 Update: Now, the LA Times gets in on the action. Probably after they read it here first ;)

If you spend any time watching CBS you'll hear them celebrate the fact that CBS is the most watched network. It's no longer true though. FOX is the most watched network in primetime and its lead is growing. Neither Bill Gorman or myself believe that 6-8 weeks of new scripted dramas and comedies coming from CBS down the road will allow it to overtake FOX either in total viewers, or ANY of the demographics.

FOX's lead in total viewers keeps growing and there's too much American Idol left. American Idol may have peaked, but it's still the golden goose. FOX's lead in overall viewers (currently less than a million viewers) will continue to grow and CBS will not be able to stop it. And Big Brother and Jericho (nothing against these shows or its fans, we love you all) aren't helping.

But it's the demographics where CBS is getting crushed. It's getting whipped by more than a million viewers on average in the 18-49 and 18-34 demos, and FOX's lead in the 25-54 demo is on a trajectory to be more than a million perhaps by as soon as next week.

CBS can certainly proclaim "The MOST watched network among people age 55 and over!", but outside of that, Les Moonves and the crew at the Eye network have nothing to crow about.


Please excuse the chart for being less pretty than normal. Bill was on vacation and couldn't create it on his normal setup. Nonetheless, it's prettier than what I could've come up with, so I am including it. If you're interested to track how FOX has grown through the year, you can check out the previous season-to-date postings.

 

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  • Patrick

    Okay, I just don't get the obsession with 18-49. The Baby Boom generation is beginning to retire. We're in the midst of the largest transfer of wealth in our history. The frugal WWII generation is dying and leaving its money to the free spending Boomers. Advertisers should be falling all over themselves for CBS's viewers!

  • Patrick

    Okay, I just don’t get the obsession with 18-49. The Baby Boom generation is beginning to retire. We’re in the midst of the largest transfer of wealth in our history. The frugal WWII generation is dying and leaving its money to the free spending Boomers. Advertisers should be falling all over themselves for CBS’s viewers!

  • Vicki

    I have to say that the much coveted 18-49 demographics was being won almost every Friday night at 9:00 pm by MOONLIGHT viewers; however, CBS has done little, so far, to promote this show more and get this show out there to grab those 18-49 audiences. If CBS wants this audience, it needs to put MOONLIGHT back on and promote it heavily and get rid of the game shows.

  • Vicki

    I have to say that the much coveted 18-49 demographics was being won almost every Friday night at 9:00 pm by MOONLIGHT viewers; however, CBS has done little, so far, to promote this show more and get this show out there to grab those 18-49 audiences. If CBS wants this audience, it needs to put MOONLIGHT back on and promote it heavily and get rid of the game shows.

  • Tawny

    Hi, my name is Tawny and I'm a Moonlight addict. Moonlight is the best new show on tv. I haVe turned many a friend and family member on to Moonlight. Now on Friday nights at 10pm the phone starts ringing with everyone talking to each other about the ep we just watched. I talk to people in the grocery store, at a restaurant, in the library, at church everywhere I go just to spread the addiction. I am not surprised that many of the people I start talking to already share my addiction. Welike little school girls. PLEASE PLEASE CBS RENEW OUR SHOW.

  • Tawny

    Excuse my error in the previous post… I meant to say we giggle and feel like little school girls. I got so excited thinking about it that I messed up.

  • Tawny

    Hi, my name is Tawny and I’m a Moonlight addict. Moonlight is the best new show on tv. I haVe turned many a friend and family member on to Moonlight. Now on Friday nights at 10pm the phone starts ringing with everyone talking to each other about the ep we just watched. I talk to people in the grocery store, at a restaurant, in the library, at church everywhere I go just to spread the addiction. I am not surprised that many of the people I start talking to already share my addiction. Welike little school girls. PLEASE PLEASE CBS RENEW OUR SHOW.

  • Tawny

    Excuse my error in the previous post… I meant to say we giggle and feel like little school girls. I got so excited thinking about it that I messed up.

  • kayarn

    18 to 49 is important because that what advertisers covet. they feel that people under 18 dont have disposable income and people over 50 are a combination of too old, too stuck in their ways and not likely enough to go out and by things.

    so getting people 18-49, who have money to spend and who can be sold for life on a product, is the key.

    fight it all you want, its the way the business operates.

  • kayarn

    18 to 49 is important because that what advertisers covet. they feel that people under 18 dont have disposable income and people over 50 are a combination of too old, too stuck in their ways and not likely enough to go out and by things.

    so getting people 18-49, who have money to spend and who can be sold for life on a product, is the key.

    fight it all you want, its the way the business operates.

  • Barbara

    I am 49 and I guess I'm in the 18-49 graphics but it doesn't matter how old I am I'm still going to LOVE moonlight! There are alot of older people 50+ who LOVE moonlight too.I do not feel like we're too stuck in our ways or old or not likely to go out.I think that is rubbish kayarn. If you don't like moonlight I think you ought to not be speaking ill of others who do.

  • Barbara

    I am 49 and I guess I’m in the 18-49 graphics but it doesn’t matter how old I am I’m still going to LOVE moonlight! There are alot of older people 50+ who LOVE moonlight too.I do not feel like we’re too stuck in our ways or old or not likely to go out.I think that is rubbish kayarn. If you don’t like moonlight I think you ought to not be speaking ill of others who do.

  • James B.

    You know The Price is Right and The Young & The Restless are pretty popular. Maybe Les is right once you factor in all network shows, not just primetime.

  • James B.

    You know The Price is Right and The Young & The Restless are pretty popular. Maybe Les is right once you factor in all network shows, not just primetime.

  • http://www.tv.com/users/vendbien/profile.php?tag=login;myprofile Jon V

    I wanted to respond to Patrick's take on the 18-49 'demo' because I fall in the middle of the 'retiring' boomer group,

    Actually, not respond so much as totally agree. The 45 to @62 group should be recognized as a major advertising target for 'big ticket' items. I am not going to change the beer or soda I drink, but I might buy a different new car (love the new Jaguar commercial featuring Deep Purple's 'Hush' -can't afford it though, I'm sure)) because of a well-crafted commercial on a show I watch.

    I assume that advertisers, with all of their surveys, are aware of this and have enough clout to keep an 'older' slanted show on the air if they think it reaches their target consumer.

    Once again, ratings are not the only gauge of whether a show is kept or not. Advertisers can speak with their checkbooks (and often do as a way of top product execs exercising their power to keep a show on that hits 'their' consumer or that they and their friends may like).

    The old 18-49 'chestnut' should be revisited as the boomer-nation ages. It was a phenomenon when it was recognized and that shouldn't change until the boomers are all mostly in their graves.

  • http://www.tv.com/users/vendbien/profile.php?tag=login;myprofile Jon V

    I wanted to respond to Patrick’s take on the 18-49 ‘demo’ because I fall in the middle of the ‘retiring’ boomer group,

    Actually, not respond so much as totally agree. The 45 to @62 group should be recognized as a major advertising target for ‘big ticket’ items. I am not going to change the beer or soda I drink, but I might buy a different new car (love the new Jaguar commercial featuring Deep Purple’s ‘Hush’ -can’t afford it though, I’m sure)) because of a well-crafted commercial on a show I watch.

    I assume that advertisers, with all of their surveys, are aware of this and have enough clout to keep an ‘older’ slanted show on the air if they think it reaches their target consumer.

    Once again, ratings are not the only gauge of whether a show is kept or not. Advertisers can speak with their checkbooks (and often do as a way of top product execs exercising their power to keep a show on that hits ‘their’ consumer or that they and their friends may like).

    The old 18-49 ‘chestnut’ should be revisited as the boomer-nation ages. It was a phenomenon when it was recognized and that shouldn’t change until the boomers are all mostly in their graves.

  • Brigitte

    I'm part of the 18-49 group, I'm 41 and I work in the computer industry and I do have lots of disposable incomes and I don't watched those reality shows or AI or for that matter anything on FOX. Actually all the shows I watch are on CBS, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Dexter, CSI:NY, Without a Trace. So, no CBS isn't just watched by old folks who won't want to buy the lastest MP3 player(I have two) or a new flashy cell phone(I change mine as often as new options are available).

    For me FOX have only two shows AI and House and since House been on rerun FOX been playing AI all over the place. I wonder, if FOX didn't have AI, who would be the most watched network…

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    Brigitte, without AI on Fox, CBS would still be most watched still this season, but that's sort of like saying “Without the 3 CSI's, where would CBS be?”

  • Brigitte

    I’m part of the 18-49 group, I’m 41 and I work in the computer industry and I do have lots of disposable incomes and I don’t watched those reality shows or AI or for that matter anything on FOX. Actually all the shows I watch are on CBS, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Dexter, CSI:NY, Without a Trace. So, no CBS isn’t just watched by old folks who won’t want to buy the lastest MP3 player(I have two) or a new flashy cell phone(I change mine as often as new options are available).

    For me FOX have only two shows AI and House and since House been on rerun FOX been playing AI all over the place. I wonder, if FOX didn’t have AI, who would be the most watched network…

  • Brigitte

    Bill,

    Yeah, you do have a point, still what I wanted
    to say was CBS has more depth or variety (CBS wants to appeal to all kind of viewer not just the 18-49 group, according to the article in the LA Times) than FOX and in the long run that should help CBS.

    I think that CBS does have a problem in the reality shows department. Survivor isn't doing as well as it us to be and Big Brother isn't cutting it. So if CBS wants to beat FOX it should be looking at a new reality show that will bring the type of viewer who like that kind of show back to CBS.

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