TV Ratings Sunday: 'Billboard Music Awards' Leads ABC to Nightly Win, 'Celebrity Apprentice' Sees Finale Low

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May 21st, 2012

Adults 18-49: Rating/Share 2.4/7 1.9/6 1.6/5 1.3/4 1.0/3
Adults 18-34: Rating/Share 1.9/6 1.8/6 1.0/3 0.6/2 1.0/3
Total Viewers (million) 6.981 4.058 5.551 11.316 2.849


ABC won the night in adults 18-49, but CBS claimed victory with  total viewers. 

On ABC, America's Funniest Videos season finale earned a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating, down a tenth from last week's 1.6  adults 18-49 rating. The 2012 Billboard Music Awards earned a 2.7 18-49 rating and was the highest-rated program of the evening, despite tying it's all-time ratings low, set in 2006.

On CBS, back to back episodes of 60 Minutes earned a 1.4 and1.5 adults 18-49 rating, both up from last week's 1.2 rating. Made-for-TV movie Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt at 9PM earned 1.2 among adults 18-49 but was the most-watched program of the evening.

On Fox, The Cleveland Show season finale was even with last week's 1.3 rating among adults 18-49.  The Simpsons finale was up two-tenths to a 2.1 from last week's 1.9 adults 18-49 rating. Bob's Burgers was down a tenth to a 1.7 from last week's 1.8 in adults 18-49. An hour-long Family Guy was up two-tenths from last week's  2.3, earning a 2.5 adults 18-49 rating.

On NBC, the finale of Celebrity Apprentice was up four-tenths, drawing a 2.2 compared to last week's 1.8 among adults 18-49. However, this was the lowest-rated finale episode of the series to date.

Broadcast primetime ratings for Sunday, May 20, 2012:

Time Net Show 18-49 Rating 18-49 Share Viewers Live+SD (million)
7:00PM ABC America's Funniest Home Videos 1.5 5 5.817
CBS 60 Minutes 1.4 5 5.000
FOX The Simpsons -R 1.0 4 2.338
NBC America's Got Talent -R 1.0 3 4.282
7:30PM FOX The Cleveland Show 1.3 4 3.030
8:00PM ABC Billboard Music Awards (8-11P)  2.7  7  7.400
CBS 60 Minutes 1.5 4 10.128
FOX The Simpsons 2.1 7 4.790
8:30PM FOX Bob's Burgers 1.7 5 3.568
9:00PM FOX Family Guy 2.5 6 5.286
NBC The Celebrity Apprentice (9-11p) 2.2 6 6.820
CBS Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt (9-11P) 1.2 3 12.766

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2012 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.


Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings, including demographics, are available at approximately 11 AM (ET) the day after telecast, and are released to subscribing customers daily. These data, from the National People Meter sample, are strictly time-period information, based on the normal broadcast network feed, and include all programming on the affiliated stations, sometimes including network programming, sometimes not. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. For example, with a World Series game, Fast Affiliate Ratings would include whatever aired from 8-11PM on affiliates in the Pacific Time Zone, following the live baseball game, but not game coverage that begins at 5PM PT. The same would be true of Presidential debates as well as live award shows and breaking news reports.

Rating: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.

Share (of Audience): The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. (See also, Rating, which represents tuning or viewing as a percent of the entire population being measured.)

Time Shifted Viewing – Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live+Same Day (Live+SD) and Live+7 Day. Time shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs. Live+Same Day (Live+SD) include viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3:00AM local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live+7 Day ratings include incremental viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

For more information see Numbers 101 and Numbers 102.

  • sam

    People who are 50 are not 90 plus. I realize that the networks don’t value older viewers, but it gets a bit tiresome that some people who post act like everyone not in the “target” age is an idiot or senile. Many of us are professionals who make a lot more money than the unemployed kids who are watching the Billboard Awards. It is the networks who are stupid enough not to recognize that my kids don’t watch TV live any more. The networks better start appealing to older viewers or they won’t have any viewers left.

  • rick

    It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when the older viewers were the ones that were most desired. Younger viewers used to be VERY easy to get, but not now days.

  • Dan S

    @ Sam, good post. I’ll sure miss Harry’s Law, now I need to get my Metamucil & adult diapers.

  • Ultima

    The networks better start appealing to older viewers or they won’t have any viewers left.

    And I better start volunteering or I won’t be able to pay my bills!

  • talbet

    The Simpsons was very funny last night for a change. Seems the writers found their muse in Lady Gaga.

  • SarahL


    And I better start volunteering or I won’t be able to pay my bills!


  • Lacy

    I was dumb enough to watch the apprentice. I watch them show that Aiken won the fund rasing task, won the performance task, won the room task and then the end…Trump says the next apprentice is Arsenio Hall

    It was a real shocker to see someone do so well and lose at the board room table. Poor Aiken!

  • Captain Wacky

    Talbet must do drugs.. The Simpsons last night was the worst episode of any series in the known universe.. for all times and through all multiverses.

  • Cath

    If CBS wasn’t making money on the Jesse Stone movies it wouldn’t make them. Total viewers is a part of their strategy.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “If CBS wasn’t making money on the Jesse Stone movies it wouldn’t make them. Total viewers is a part of their strategy.”

    First sentence absolutely correct. If those JS movies didn’t make money they’d stop making/airing them.

    Second sentence is absolute nonsense. Total viewership is financially irrelevant. Those JS movies make money based on their ad revenue from adults 18-49 and whatever extra revenue there is in DVDs and off broadcast syndication.

  • Bette

    I love Jesse Stone.
    I thought I read somewhere this was the last one to be on CBS but Tom Selleck still wants to make more–I hope so, I love his Jesse Stone.

  • Hugh

    Wow Jessie Stone is the oldest skewing program I’ve ever seen

  • 728huey

    @Gary A

    You make some excellent observations, but I think a lot your rant needs to be directed at the ad agencies and not necessarily the networks themselves. The conventional wisdom among ad agencies is that the 18-49 demo is more easily susceptible to buying certain brands and spending a lot of money doing so while viewers above that demographic (50+) have already made their major life purchases and are less swayed by broadcast advertising. And because they are also set in their TV viewing habits, they are much cheaper to reach via TV, which is good for the ad agencies but not good for the networks who charge the rates to those same ad agencies. While I think this observation made a lot of sense from 1960 thru 2000, I think it make much less sense these days. The Baby Boomers are still the largest demographic in the country, though their children, the Millennial/Gen Y will eventually outnumber them, but at a rate less big than the original Baby Boomers, but the Boomers still collectively have a lot of money that Gen X and Gen Y do not have, and their lifestyle patterns in the golden years are radically different than those generations before them. While the WWII generation and the Silent generation before them were content to hang around their neighborhood with the occasional trip across the country for vacation, Boomers are far more active and are as much into making huge plans to travel as well as being up on the latest technology trends.

    Then when you add in the fact that the GenX/GenY demographic spends much less time watching TV and is adept at DVR’ing their favorite programs to watch later, and the fact that they are just as likely to be playing video games, surfing the web, catching up with friends on Facebook or Twitter, or even making reasoned posts about TV demographics on a website dedicated to TV ratings, and it appears that the old conventional wisdom is due for an upgrade. Now until the ad agencies wise up on this, the networks are still going to program their lineups based on chasing an ever more elusive younger demographic. And shows like Jesse Stone or Harry’s Law are still going to pull a 1.2 demo even though they may have double the viewers of the highest rated program on network TV that night.

  • Networkman

    Who would of taught that this year’s Billboard Music Awards would of garner under 8 million viewers. I guess people are over Whitney Houston’s passing and didn’t care to see the tribute. Lady Gaga, Adele nor Rihanna was there. Maybe a performance from one of them would of help to increase ratings.

    Regarding Celebrity Apprentice, the cast this year paled in comparison to last year’s entertaining group.

  • Ultima

    Now until the ad agencies wise up on this, the networks are still going to program their lineups based on chasing an ever more elusive younger demographic

    As the younger audience becomes more elusive, it is much more likely that the target demographic will shift to 18-34 as opposed to 25-54 or older, because the scarcest product will dominate the pricing.

  • Denise

    All I can say is long live Tom Selleck and his Jesse Stone movies. We absolutely love him and everything he does. Thank you CBS. Also-people over 49 do count and there’s lots of us!!!

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