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Fox Wins Season 18-49 Ratings Crown; CBS Wins Viewership Title

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May 25th, 2010

While the 2009-10 season doesn't end officially until Wednesday, May 26, all the broadcast networks are out with their "end of the season" PR today, because (a) nothing's going to change in the next 3 days, and (b) next Monday is Memorial Day and everyone will be at the beach while weekly Nielsen ratings are being delayed by the holiday.

Comparing just ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox combined*, those 4 networks are in total down ~ 2.5% in adults 18-49 primetime ratings (12.2 vs. 12.5) for the year.

Remove NBC's Winter Olympics (which is not an annual event) ratings weeks from the averages and the 4 together are down 5.5% for the year (11.8 vs. 12.5) in adults 18-49 ratings.

*I cannot make an apples to apples comparison of the CW's Sun-Fri average last season to their Mon-Fri average this season with the data I have, but if I could include them they'd have dragged the broadcast ratings comparison down further.

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

  • Fox is now flat vs. last season in all the main adult demo ratings categories, and up only in average viewership.
  • CBS is up only in adults 18-34 vs. last season, due to boost they received during Super Bowl week. Without it, they'd be down across the board in the adult demo ratings.
  • NBC, even with the Winter Olympics, is down 4% vs. last year in adults 18-49.
  • ABC is down vs. last season across the board between 4-8%.
  • Since the CW only programs Monday-Friday this season vs. Sunday-Friday last season, doing season to season comparisons is apples to oranges enough to not bother having to explain each week.

The xCBS and xNBC values in the Season To Season change chart show the season to date ratings changes minus a few non-annual events for CBS and NBC.

  • The xCBS number is the CBS season to season ratings change minus the entire Super Bowl 2010 week.
  • The xNBC number is the NBC season to season ratings change minus all 3 weeks that included any Winter Olympics this year, and the week that included the Super Bowl 2009 last year.

Unfortunately, with the data I get, I can do no better than exclude entire weeks. Those numbers should not be considered "official", and there are always errors possible. They're meant to help answer the question "How would CBS (or NBC) be doing without those non-annual events". I lack the data to do those adjusted comparisons for average viewership.

For the sixth year in a row, Fox will win the important (for advertising revenue) adults 18-49 ratings race, while CBS PR will again (for the seventh time in eight years) be able to lay claim to being the "most watched network in America".

To a single digit past the decimal point used for public reporting, ABC is going to remain tied with NBC in all the main adult demo ratings categories for the season's third place.

However, taking as many digits as Nielsen shows me, the race is so close that the final three nights of the season (which ends on Wednesday, May 26) could decide the fractional 3rd place finisher for adults 18-49.

ABC: 2.692169294

NBC: 2.693504505

Season To Date Ratings

  • Fox will win both the adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 ratings races this season, and will tie CBS for adults 25-54.
  • CBS will win the average viewership race, and  tie with Fox for adults 25-54.
  • NBC and ABC are locked in third place in the main adult demo ratings categories will stay that way out to one digit past the decimal point.

The xCBS and xNBC values in the Season To Date chart show the season to date ratings minus a few non-annual events for CBS and NBC.

  • The xCBS number is the CBS season to date ratings average minus the entire Super Bowl 2010 week.
  • The xNBC number is the NBC season to date ratings average minus the 3 weeks with any Winter Olympics telecasts.

Unfortunately, with the data I get, I can do no better than exclude entire weeks. Those numbers should not be considered "official", and there are always errors possible. They're meant to help answer the question "How would CBS (or NBC) be doing without those non-annual events".

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: ©2010 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

 
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