A lot of people expected the broadcast networks to recover above their viewing levels of the strike damaged 2007-8 season. I didn't, but I didn't expect them to do as badly as they did. Only CBS increased its adults 18-49 demo vs. last season, and continuing losses across the board for the other networks portend even worse comparisons come next season.
You'll read in a lot of end of season reports how far Fox fell this season, if so, check to see if they factored in the effect of the 2008 Super Bowl. Almost none will have. That sloppiness masks the fact that season to season, Fox's results are down, but its changes are very close to ABC's. MediaWeek fell into that trap, so did MediaDailyNews.
I have adjusted the NBC numbers to remove the effects of Super Bowl week 2009 and adjusted the Fox numbers to remove the effects of Super Bowl week 2008. My adjustments remove the effect of the entire week, not just the game, so they're crude, but they make season to season comparisons at least reasonably possible. With the data I have available I cannot make a finer adjustment.
As it has for quit sometime, CBS continues ahead of all its major demo group results from last season. NBC and the CW continue to both be down substantially across the board vs. last season.
Remember that at this point last season the WGA strike had already caused havoc with the English broadcasters scheduling.
Some of the CW decline is due to the fact that they started their new shows before the official Nielsen start to the season (but so did Fox for several shows), and so the timelines don't line up well and they are airing increased reruns in the middle of the season. Still, we use the data we get, and by that measure the CW is very far behind last season across the board.
Univision is no longer up across the board vs. last season, having fallen behind in adults 18-34. MyNetworkTV (MNT) is up drastically over last season, thanks mainly to the addition of Friday Night Smackdown!. Note just their numbers, because their bars are truncated. The scale for the other networks would be useless if I adjusted the scale for them.
Our chart shows broadcast network prime-time season to date average prime-time viewership for the 2008-9 season compared to the 2007-8 season. Click the image for a full sized chart.
Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.