Earlier today NBC puffed out its feathers to declare the best People-Meter margin of victory in the 21 years Nielsen has been using People Meters to measure ratings. I'd speculated (and so did someone in the comments) that there was another side to that coin and that a big part of the reason NBC was able to set such a record was because the other networks were completely stinking it up.
That turns out to be true, not that you'll see a press release about it. The averages for ABC, CBS and Fox were the lowest recorded averages for those networks in People Meter history, both in total viewers and among adults 18-49, according to The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd:
Not that NBC's competitors were putting up much of a fight. There was scant original competition last week, with top reality hits like Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" and ABC's "Wipeout" having wrapped up their seasons before the Olympics started.
Read the rest on Hibberd's The Live Feed.
ABC's only top twenty show when ranking by total viewers was the Friday airing of 20/20. FOX was completely shut out of that top 20. Fox's highest ranking show in the 18-49 demo was a rerun of Family Guy at #23. Among 18-49 year olds, ABC's best performer was a repeat of Wipeout that tied for 18th.
Update: Commenter "Carl Lafong" notes that these were not historical low People Meter averages for Fox, who in its nascent days of 1986 and 1987(the year People Meters launched), and before the Simpsons and when it had less national reach than it has now, Fox had some worse performances. Carl is insistent that this be debunked before it is taken as fact. Is there really much difference between "worst in People Meter's 21 year history" vs. "worst in over two decades"? No, probably not, but, we appreciate the precision.
Update 2: From what I hear, the "official" roll-out of the People Meter was the week of 9/21/07, and the numbers cited in the comments came before that.