NBC – Yes, NBC – Is Still No. 1 for the Season

The-Voice-Ratings-Cristina-Aguilera

Perpetually mocked network quietly leads its rivals

Six weeks into the fall TV season, NBC — that network that is still the regular butt of jokes about its low ratings — remains the top-rated network.

I know: NBC? Didn’t Defamer joke just Monday about how NBC had fallen to fifth place, “behind a network that airs the majority of its programming in a foreign language”? But that happened in February, Defamer. Now it’s November, and NBC leads every network in the key 18-49 demographic.

Also read: NBC’s Jennifer Salke on Why ‘The Blacklist’ Has ‘the Goods,’ and Keeping Faith in Michael J. Fox

People who think NBC has no hits tend to forget it has “Sunday Night Football,” the biggest show on television. And “The Voice” and “The Blacklist” have cleaned up on Monday nights.

It’s not all touchdowns and silly dances: NBC is still third in total viewers, behind CBS and ABC. But it’s ahead of Fox in total viewers.

Also read: ‘Blacklist’ Gets Full Season Order

And the demo ratings are what matter to advertisers most. Among 18-to-49-year-olds, NBC has a 3.1 average rating, the same as it did this time last year — when it was also No. 1. (More on that ominous fact in a moment.)

Fox is up 8 percent to a 2.7 rating. CBS is down 7 percent to a 2.6, and ABC is down 4 percent to a 2.4.

But wait, you say. Didn’t one of NBC’s own stars, Sean Hayes, complain a couple weeks ago about NBC’s low ratings? Yes, yes he did. But he was wrong, as we told you at the time.

NBC has won every week this season, in fact, except the fifth week, when Fox ruled by airing four World Series games. Last week, Week 6, NBC came back despite Fox airing the last two games of the Fall Classic.

One thing though: As we mentioned, NBC was in first at this point last season, too. And it ended up in third. CBS won in both ratings and total viewers.

We asked NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke recently why she thought this season would be different.

“I think the difference is the shows,” she said.

Salke pointed particularly to “The Blacklist,” which follows “The Voice.” “The Blacklist” has been remarkably resilient in holding on to its solid ratings. But on Monday, the show earned its lowest rating so far — a still solid 2.9.

Can “The Blacklist” hang on? Can NBC?

Stay tuned.