2010-11 SEASON vs. 2009-2010 SEASON (Through May 1, 2011, Week 32 of 35)

For more than a generation broadcast primetime ratings declines have been consistent, so the fact that after somewhat crudely removing the effects of this year’s Super Bowl week, CBS is slightly ahead of last season’s adults 18-49 numbers average is quite noteworthy.

Update: It’s reasonable to ask as maskedscheduler did, what if anything I did about the NFC  (Fox) & AFC (CBS)  championship games which alternate in primetime every other year. I did nothing, because it seemed to be heading down a slippery slope of more and more potential “adjustments”.

CBS had the AFC championship in primetime this year, so that did boost its ratings average (by about 0.1 ratings points), contributing to their y/y benefit. By the same token, Fox had the NFC championship in primetime last year, which contributed to their y/y detriment.


By the same token, after crudely factoring out two weeks of last season’s Winter Olympics ratings, the fact that NBC is effectively even with last season’s adults 18-49 numbers is also something you’re not likely to read elsewhere in the entertainment media (primarily because their ratings got a boost from Sunday Night Football, for which the entertainment media does not give them “credit”).

Better data update: With the weekly ratings data we get, I can only add and remove entire weeks of ratings data for season to season comparisons, which is crude in the case of the Super Bowl, and I judged not worth it in the case of the primetime alternating AFC and NFC championships.

However, with a generous provision of data from someone who does get more granular information, I now understand that if both the 2010 and 2011 Super Bowl and AFC/NFC championship ratings are removed from the season averages that CBS would be down 3% (2.9 vs. 3.0) in adults 18-49 rating vs. last season and that Fox would be down 11% (3.2 vs. 3.6) in adults 18-49 ratings vs. last season.

Not only do I stand corrected, I am now swearing off my crude year to year modifications, and will simply go with the unaltered numbers from Nielsen.

And before the internet echo chamber of boycotting soap fans jump on ABC’s declines, they were even worse relative to last season *before* the “boycott” began.

And speaking of boycotts, for Fox, it was the Yankees “boycott” of the World Series that put them in a ratings hole last fall that they have been unable to climb out of.

For the 2010-11 broadcast primetime season to date vs. last season at the same week:

  • ABC is DOWN 8.8% vs. last season’s adults 18-49 average.
  • CBS is DOWN 8.3% vs. last season’s 18-49 average.
  • CW is DOWN 5.4% vs. last season’s adults 18-49 average.
  • Fox is DOWN 5.4% vs. last season’s adults 18-49 average.
  • NBC is DOWN 14.9% vs. of its adults 18-49 average compared to last season at this point. If I somewhat crudely remove the two full weeks of Winter Olympics ratings from last season (which still leaves the initial days of Olympics coverage), NBC would be DOWN 0.4% vs. last season.
  • Univision is UP 8.9% vs. last season’s adults 18-49 average.

By my calculation (using Nielsen data) the overall average adults 18-49 ratings season to date for the 5 English broadcast networks are down 9.3% vs. the season to date ratings average through the same week of the 2009-10 season. Last year’s Winter Olympics certainly makes that comparison somewhat more negative.

That overall ratings decline is pretty close to the ~5% ratings decline typical for broadcast primetime over the long term. And no, those viewers aren’t surfing the net or reading books, they’re watching ad supported cable networks.

Notes: The CW replaced one hour of their schedule last season (10%) that was a scheduled repeat with an original series this season. NBC is spending a lot more this season in primetime after replacing 5 hours of The Jay Leno Show with mostly scripted dramas.

Note that the % increases and declines calculated  use the average adults 18-49 viewership, NOT the adults 18-49 ratings rounded to a single digit past the decimal point.

2010-11 SEASON TO DATE RATINGS (Through week 32 of 35, May 1, 2011)

Fox will, once again, finish first among broadcast networks in the advertiser important adults 18-49 ratings for the 2010-11 season, and CBS will finish second. CBS fans can whine all they want about the unfair advantage of the Super Bowl, but even without it Fox would certainly have passed CBS, the Super Bowl just sped up the timetable.

ABC is now in sole possession of adults 18-49 ratings third place and will stay there. NBC dropped to a 2.3 adults 18-49 ratings average, and fourth place for the season faster than I expected, opening up a gap with ABC that they cannot recover from. I thought it might not happen until a few more weeks.

2010-11 Season to Date Adults 18-49 Ratings

  • Fox will finish in first place and currently has a 3.5 18-49 rating average. (Without the Super Bowl they’d have about a 3.0 average)
  • CBS will finish in second place and currently has a 2.9 adults 18-49 average.
  • ABC is in third place with a 2.4 rating average. (2.43 to two places)
  • NBC is in fourth place with a 2.3 rating average. (2.33 to two places)
  • Univision is in fifth place with a 1.5 rating average.
  • The CW is in sixth place with a 0.9 rating average.

Each rating point is a percentage of the US TV population in that demographic group. A 1.0 adults 18-49 rating equals 1.315 million adults 18-49

2010-11 Season To Date Average Viewership

  • CBS remains well ahead (11.68 million avg. viewers) in the press release friendly, but revenue meaningless, season to date average viewership, and will finish first for the season
  • Fox is in second place and is currently averaging 9.69 million viewers.
  • ABC is in third place, averaging 8.36 million viewers.
  • NBC is in fourth place, averaging 7.12 million viewers.
  • Univision is in fifth place, averaging 3.72 million viewers.
  • The CW is in sixth place, averaging 2.00 million viewers.

Note that these season average ratings are “Most Current” measurements which are Live+7 day DVR viewing when available (2+ weeks after airdate), combined with LIve+Same Day DVR viewing for the most recent 2 weeks.

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

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2011 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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