Eat the Rich: ABC Dominates Upper-Income Demos

Updated: But NBC has some rich spin of its own, claiming its shows overperform among upscale audiences.

Last Updated: September 30, 2009 @ 6:19 PM

Rich people love ABC!

That’s the word from the Alphabet network, which Wednesday trumpeted the fact that among viewers 18-49 with incomes over $100,000, it crushed the competition during premiere week. And that’s before ABC’s new sitcom with RIch People Idol Kelsey Grammer premiered.

ABC says that it averaged a 3.74 rating in the Richie Rich demo, 17 percent better than CBS (3.21). NBC, which once owned upper class viewers, settled for third with a 3.1, while Fox — despite being owned by the very rich Rupert Murdoch — came in fourth (2.8).

Seven of the 15 most-watched rich people shows (not counting sports) were on ABC, with "Grey’s Anatomy" and Fox’s "House" No. 1 and No. 2 in this demo, respectively. (Must be all those rich doctors tuning in).

The rest of the top 15: "The Office," "Desperate Housewives," "Big Bang Theory," "Two and a Half Men," "Cougar Town," "How I Met Your (Rich) Mother," "Flash Forward," "Amazing Race," "Modern Family," "Family Guy," "Dancing with the Stars," "60 Minutes" and "Dancing with the Stars (results)".

While ABC has reason to brag with these numbers, since advertisers love reaching rich folk, in some ways, the CBS performance is nearly as impressive.

For years, the Eye has had the rep of being a so-called "C and D" county network– popular with average Americans, but not so hot with urbanites. These numbers suggest CBS is making inroads reaching a broader audience.

NBC’s third place finish, meanwhile, shows how far the Peacock has fallen: As recently as a few years ago, it still dominated the rich demo by a mile.  

UPDATE: There’s more than one way to spin just about everything. And that applies to upscale demo numbers, too.

Not long after ABC put out its take on the premiere week numbers, NBC has shot back with data of its own which shows that the Peacock still has a higher concentration of rich folks watching its airwaves.

The network has long used so-called "index" numbers to tout its $100K plus audience performance. The index number measures how well a show does with upper income viewers compared to the overall performance of shows on TV. The higher the index (100 is the baseline), the bigger the concentration of upscale viewers.

Using this method, "The Office" — with an index figure of 159 — had a bigger concentration of elite viewers than any other show on the broadcast networks last week.

And among all the networks, NBC was No. 1 in the upscale index, with a 115. ABC is right behind with a 113, followed by CBS (104) and Fox (90).

Here’s a look at the top 15 shows on premiere week among adults 18-49 viewers who make over $100,000 as measured by index:

 

1 THE OFFICE NBC

2 AMAZING RACE CBS
3 COMMUNITY NBC
4 SNL WKND UPDATE-PRIME
5 60 MINUTES CBS
6 PARKS AND RECREATION NBC
7 HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER CBS
8 GLEE FOX
9 DANCING W/ THE STARS-9/22
10 GREY’S ANATOMY-THU 9PM ABC
11 LAW AND ORDER NBC
12 JAY LENO SHOW-THU NBC
13 FLASHFORWARD ABC
14 THE BIGGEST LOSER NBC
15 BROTHERS AND SISTERS ABC

5:07 PM CDT CORRECTED: Fox’s upscale number, originally reported as a 3.1., is actually a 2.8.