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How Bad Will Post-Leno NBC Ratings Get?

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January 13th, 2010

Ratings Increase / Decrease: 2009-10 Season vs. 2008-9 Season

How bad will primetime ratings get for NBC in the post-Leno era? Likely extraordinarily bad as the 5 hours of lost Leno are plugged with shows this spring that probably won't equal Leno's ~1.5 adults 18-49 rating. My guess is that NBC, which has averaged a 2.7 adults 18-49 rating for the season to date (boosted substantially by football, see below), will be lucky to average a 2.2 rating for non-Olympic weeks going forward this season.

The Winter Olympics will substantially cover that spring ratings carnage up for the rest of the TV media that's allergic to mathematics, but I'll have running comparisons to last season's numbers without the Olympics.

Still up across the board vs. last season, Fox's season will, as always, be made or unmade by American Idol ratings, because even a small % decline in its ratings will drag Fox's comparisons vs. last season down.

The CW's ratings averages are ahead of last season in viewership and adults 18-34 and 18-49, but they would be about 20% ahead of last season across the board if they'd just kept their Monday-Friday numbers steady because of the automatic boost to their ratings averages just by dumping Sunday nights. Compared to last season, the CW's Monday-Friday ratings averages are down, but don't be surprised if the CW's crack PR troops can pull one over on the credulous TV media.

ABC and CBS have each lost about 3% of their adults 18-49 viewership compared to last season, if they were to end the season with that much of a loss I think they'd be quite pleased, but they'd never tell you that.

Season To Date Ratings

In recent years, Fox would fall behind at the beginning of the season in the adult ratings demos and then catch up and pass the competition once American Idol and 24 appeared. But this season, helped by up years in baseball, football and with some thought put into the rest of their schedule, Fox leads for adults 18-49 and 18-34 as American Idol begins, and except for the boosts that  the Winter Olympics will give NBC and the Super Bowl will give CBS, this season's going to be a blowout for Fox in those demos.

CBS continues to hold both the adults 25-54 rating title (which Fox may challenge depending on how Idol does), and the average viewership title, which is unlikely to be challenged except possibly by NBC after the Olympics.

You can see past week's broadcast network primetime season to date average TV ratings results here.

Each rating point is a percentage of the US TV population in that demographic group and equals: 2.90 million viewers, 1.32 million adults 18-49, 0.68 million adults 18-34 and 1.24 million adults 25-54.

Note that the chart includes RATINGS not VIEWERSHIP as was typical in our weekly network ratings posts prior to July, 2009.

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

 
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