NBC Is Top-Rated Network of the Season – So Far – as Other Broadcasters Slip

NBC makes big gains as CBS easily leads in total viewers

Two weeks into the new fall season, NBC is the top-rated network after lagging in fourth place for years. CBS remains easily the most-watched network, but every network except NBC is down in the key demographic and total viewers.

NBC displaced ABC last season as the third-highest-rated network in the 18-49 demo. As happy as NBC is to be in first, the situation could quickly change: Other networks still have big guns to roll out, including "American Idol" on Fox, the network that usually finishes the season at No. 1 in the ratings.

It's been nine years since NBC was last the top-rated network two weeks into the season. NBC has averaged a 2.8 rating in the demo, the one most important to advertisers, while Fox and CBS are both averaging a 2.4.

Also read: NBC Top-Rated, CBS Most-Watched in Premiere Week

Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said over the summer that the Super Bowl could help CBS become the highest-rated network in the demo this season, as well as remain the most-watched network overall.

But the ratings leader for now is NBC, thanks largely to the success of TV's top-rated show, "Sunday Night Football," and the hit singing competition "The Voice."

More good news for NBC: It is the only network that is up in both the demo and total viewers. ABC, CBS and Fox are down in both.

CBS has, at least, has a good explanation for the decline: Last year, the debut of Ashton Kutcher on "Two and a Half Men" gave that show a huge premiere and lifted the Monday night comedies around it.

Though tops in the demo, NBC is third in total viewers. It is, however, doing better than it was at this point last year, when it was fourth.