Aided by a primetime AFC Conference Championship, CBS’s average overall viewership and average for adults 25-54 for the 2008-9 season is now above the level of the 2007-8 season through 17 weeks (1/18/09). CBS also narrowed its declines in the other demo categories and seems poised to go positive across the board very soon.

ABC and the CW showed some improvement since last week as well. Fox took a hit, I believe because they didn’t get the primetime conference championship like last year. NBC went the other direction, losing ground vs. last season.

My guess is that CBS, CW and ABC will see additional improvement vs. last season in early 2009 when prior year comparisons to the strike damaged portion of the 2007-8 season get a lot easier. NBC may be another matter, their results last season actually improved on a relative basis during the strike, but they have the Super Bowl this year, which will also lead to a huge spike in their averages making comparisons tricky.

Univision is up across the board vs. last season as is MyNetworkTV (MNT). They’re up drastically over last season, thanks mainly to the addition of Friday Night Smackdown!. Note just their numbers, because their bars are truncated. The scale for the other networks would be useless if I adjusted the scale for them.

Our chart shows broadcast network prime-time season to date average prime-time viewership for the 2008-9 season compared to the 2007-8 season. Click the image for a full sized chart.

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

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Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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