You can listen to a short piece from yesterday's NPR Morning Edition where I talked a bit about the current competitive position between NBC and ABC with the incredibly dulcid-toned Neda Ulaby. As short as it was, I wanted to expand on the point in a post.
Neda highlighted how badly NBC did last week when it didn't place a single show in the top 25 for average viewership. I agreed that wasn't good, but show by show comparisons sometimes miss the big picture.
The networks get paid by advertisers based on their adults 18-49 ratings, and its that overall average that determines their overall advertising revenue. Breaking that up into show by show comparisons can be interesting for its own purposes, but the overall average is what matters for the network's overall revenue.
On that basis, ABC did as badly as NBC did last week, as each averaged a 2.1 adults 18-49 rating. No question that a 2.1 average weekly rating in mid-March is bad news for both. Another point I tried to make in the interview was that it's a pretty safe bet that with Dancing With The Stars returning next week that ABC will bounce off those weekly lows (how high is another matter), but NBC really has nothing left in the tank this spring. No big show left to boost ratings. My guess is that a 2.1 weekly rating will not be NBC's lowest point of the spring.