Nielsen Ratings Tuesday August 19: NBC Laps the Field

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August 20th, 2008

Scoreboard NBC CBS ABC Uni FOX CW
Total Viewers (million) 25.45 6.14 4.27 3.76 3.09 .77
Rating/Share: Adults 18-49 8.5/23 1.6/4 1.6/4 1.6/4 1.1/3 0.3/1

Though down a fair clip from last week's average of 32 million, the Olympics still compelled over 25 million people to watch.  Since even NBC had predicted this week wouldn't be as large as last, I imagine they are pretty tickled with these numbers.  It will be interesting to see if NBC can break the total reach record of 209 million set in 1996 with the Atlanta games.  Through Monday's broadcast (but not including yesterday) NBC was at 200 million after 11 days and still adding ~5 million total viewers per day.

We figured the Olympics would be big, but if I'd had to bet before hand whether the Beijing games could best Atlanta ratings and total reach, my bet would've been not even close, and I imagine Bill would've bet the same way.

Good thing I did no such speculating!

What else to say about last night?   Ummm Wanna Bet does just about as well in reruns as in new airings.  If it were drawing 12 million, that would be fabulous news for ABC, but...

Big Brother's core audience is loyal and faithful. Other than the Olympics, it was the only thing on the broadcast nets that did better than a 2.0 rating among 18-49 year olds, though a repeat of Wipeout had exactly a 2.0 rating.

I don't know if it's possible for the networks to figure out, but there's something about the Olympics that draws in the more youthful demos and it's performed very impressively among 18-34 year olds.  NBC had a 20% share of all 18-34 year olds watching TV for the night.  The other broadcast networks combined (including Spanish language and ION, but not MyNetworkTV) combined for 18% share among 18-34 year olds.

So even with the Olympic-sized success of NBC, the broadcast networks combined for only ~38% of all 18-34 year olds.  62% were watching cable or local programming.  The same thing is basically true for the 18-49 demographic as well.

I bring any of that up because I receive a lot of e-mail saying "The Internet is killing broadcast TV because younger people don't care about TV and just watch what they want on the Internet."   Uh...right.  All of the numbers point to that certainly not being the case, at least not yet.  For now, the biggest competition, and the biggest opportunity to gain share for broadcast television comes from cable and other TV programming.

Full details:

Time Net Show Viewers (Millons) 18-49 Rating/Share
8:00 ABC Wipeout (R) 5.24 2.0/6
CBS NCIS (R) 7.60 1.5/5
NBC Beijing Olympics 20.91 6.3/19
FOX House (R) 3.30 1.2/4
CW Beauty and the Geek (R) 0.74 0.3/1
UNI Al Diablo con los Guapos 4.10 1.7/5
9:00 ABC Wanna Bet (R) 3.19 1.3/3
CBS Big Brother 6.25 2.2/6
NBC Beijing Olympics 26.95 8.8/23
FOX Terminator: TSCC (R) 2.88 0.9/2
CW Reaper (R) 0.81 0.3/1
UNI Fuego en la Sangre 3.99 1.7/4
10:00 ABC Primetime: Medical Mysteries 4.37 1.5/4
CBS Without a Trace (R) 4.58 1.1/3
NBC Beijing Olympics 28.48 10.3/27
UNI Aqui y Ahora 3.19 1.3/3

Nielsen Ratings Source: (C)2008 The Nielsen Company, All Rights Reserved.


Overnights: Local metered-market ratings service of Nielsen Station Index (NSI) in which household ratings and shares are provided to clients the morning following the day or evening of telecast.

Rating: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.

Share (of Audience): The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. (See also, Rating, which represents tuning or viewing as a percent of the entire population being measured.)

LIVE+SD: The number that watched a program either while it was broadcast OR watched via DVR on the same day [through 3AM the next day] the program was broadcast.

For more information see Numbers 101.

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