CBS was the only major English broadcaster to finish the 2008-9 season with ratings ahead of the strike torn 2007-8 season. Many thought it would be easy for all the broadcasters to beat that season's numbers, but that wasn't to happen.
If you factor out Fox's Super Bowl week in 2008 (as I have in the chart above), Fox and ABC fared about the same vs. last season, ABC doing a bit better in 25-54, Fox doing a bit better than ABC in 18-34.
Factoring out NBC's Super Bowl week in 2009 shows the real extent to which it slid this season. Ben Silverman strikes again!
The CW was down substantially across the board vs. 2007-8, some of that was starting the season early and needing more repeats mid-season, some of that was dropping Friday Night Smackdown, but a lot was simply poor performance. Don't worry, by dropping Sunday night next season, the CW averages will be *certain* to go up. Expect that to be trumpeted loudly by their PR hangers on, Variety, TVWeek, etc.
In the chart above, 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.
For those interested in a chart that is *unadjusted* for the Super Bowl weeks, here you go. Note that only the Fox and NBC numbers change.
Interesting to note that by the end of the season Univision fell behind its 18-34 results from last season. That's typically their best performing demo vs. the English broadcasters. 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.