How CBS’ ‘Blue Bloods’ Has Bloodied the Friday Competition for a Decade-Plus

Cop drama has topped NBC’s and ABC’s audiences — combined — for all 11 seasons

Blue Bloods

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Directly going up against CBS’ “Blue Bloods”? Well, that has proven to be a real bloodbath for NBC and ABC programming.

Last season, the long-running cop drama averaged 10.2 million total viewers, including one week of (mostly) DVR viewing. That whopper of a tally more than doubled the individual audiences for both NBC’s “Dateline” (4.1 million) and ABC’s “20/20” (4 million).

“Blue Bloods” beat those two combined by just north of 20%.

Doubling the respective audiences of its direct time slot competition is nothing new for the Tom Selleck-Donnie Wahlberg cop drama. With the exception of “Blue Bloods” Season 1, which only beat NBC’s time-slot average (that year, a combination of “Outlaw” and “Dateline”) by 91%, the CBS mainstay has more than doubled the audiences of both NBC and ABC each season.

For each of its 11 seasons, “Blue Bloods” has beaten ABC and NBC combined.

(ABC has consistently aired “20/20” at 10 p.m. on Fridays; NBC has almost exclusively programmed “Dateline” in the time slot with a few exceptions here and there. Fox and The CW do not nationally schedule the 10 o’clock hour.)

See how each season of “Blue Bloods” has outdrawn its time slot competition in total viewers, which counts anyone 2-years-old and older, via the line graph below.

Out of fairness, we should point out that news programming tends to grow very little in delayed viewing vs. scripted programming. But to not include delayed viewing for programs that air at 10 o’clock on a Friday would be to rely on a very limited snapshot of viewership. After all, people who have lives go out on Friday nights. People who don’t, well, they go to bed.

Even without delayed viewing, “Blue Bloods” still tops “Dateline” and “20/20” combined. Last season, for example, “Blue Bloods” averaged 6.5 million in Live + Same Day viewers vs. 3.1 million apiece for both “Dateline” and “20/20.”

“’Blue Bloods’ has not only been the dominant series on Fridays for over a decade, it’s one of the most-watched series in all of broadcast television,” Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president, told TheWrap. “The show’s success clearly speaks to the remarkable writers, fantastic crew, and gifted cast…all of whom bring their ‘A game’ every week.”

That “A game” for “Blue Bloods” has resulted in A+ viewership — a trend that is likely to continue tonight with the show’s Season 12 premiere. So good luck with that, NBC and ABC.