Why NBC Isn’t a Lock to Win Premiere Week Ratings After 7 Years of Dominance | PRO Insight

But it’s looking pretty good for the peacock network that just announced sister streaming service Peacock

NBC just wrapped another 52-week season No. 1 in ratings — but will it continue its winning streak next week, when the 2019-20 broadcast TV season kicks off?

If recent history is any indication, with seven-straight top finishes (one was a tie) for Fall TV premiere week under its belt, NBC should seem like a lock to draw the most adults ages 18-49. But channel chiefs Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks should keep that cork in the champagne bottle — for now.

After all, NBC isn’t the only network that shells out a ton of money for NFL rights. “The Voice” home also is not the only one with hit entertainment programming on its late September schedule either.

Here is how the Big 4 networks’ 2018-19 fall premiere week shook out among adults 18-49:

  1. NBC: 2.0
  2. Fox: 1.6
  3. CBS: 1.3
  4. ABC: 1.2

In total viewers, however, CBS finished first. See those rankings below:

  1. CBS: 8.4 million
  2. NBC: 7.9 million
  3. ABC: 5.4 million
  4. Fox: 5.3 million

All numbers in this story come from Nielsen’s “most current” ratings, which includes a week of DVR viewing.

Now, the case for another NBC win among adults 18-49:

NBC is home to “Sunday Night Football,” the top show on TV every year. This coming Sunday, “SNF” will duke it out with Fox’s Primetime Emmy Awards. But guess what? The Nielsen week is not the calendar week. Ratings weeks start on Mondays — and premiere week, which starts on Monday, Sept. 23 and ends on Sunday, Sept. 29, is no exception. That avoids competing with the Emmys, which is good for NBC and bad for Fox, which will broadcast the 71st annual awards ceremony.

Therefore, the “SNF” game that will actually count during premiere week is the Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints on Sept. 29. On the plus side, the Cowboys are appropriately nicknamed “America’s Team,” and they generate the best ratings of any NFL franchise.

The game will be somewhat marred by Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ recent injury, but probably not enough to boot NBC off the tallest podium for the week. That said, uncompetitiveness doesn’t help ratings, and right now one has to expect the Cowboys to be fairly heavy road favorites against a Teddy Bridgewater-led Saints squad. So we’ll see.

In addition to its Emmys not making the cut for premiere week, Fox’s “Friday Night SmackDown” debut will miss the start of Fall TV by a week. Tough luck, Fox.

Of course, there are also scripted series on broadcast TV, and NBC has a biggie, “This Is Us,” which returns for its Season 4 debut on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Just as important for the peacock network (that we can longer refer to as “Peacock”), 2018-19’s top comedy, CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” is no longer on television.

But don’t order the “8th Straight Premiere Weeks Wins” banner just yet, NBC executive assistants. There’s a case for the Comcast-owned broadcast network to not win. Two cases, actually.

Despite all that bad news we delivered above, Fox isn’t throwing in the towel. Last year’s premiere week runner-up still has a shot. Fox will have “Thursday Night Football” on Thursday, Sept 26. It also wisely moved up the Season 2 premiere of last season’s winter smash hit, “The Masked Singer,” to the fall. Season 2 premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

Here’s where we point out that “This Is Us,” “Big Bang” and “Masked Singer” all averaged a 3.8 rating last season, making them the top drama, comedy, and alternative program of the year, respectively.

That trifecta is only looking up at “Sunday Night Football” (6.1 rating) and its pre-show (in third place, with a 4.0). The only series ranking between those two was “Thursday Night Football” (a 4.4). (Fox’s Sunday afternoon post-game show, “The OT,” averaged a 3.4.)

CBS hasn’t exactly conceded the first week just yet either. The network will have the Sunday afternoon overrun — a pre-primetime game that will run into primetime, boosting ratings — in the form of next weekend’s Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings game. For CBS’ sake, we hope it’s a good one this time.

Last year, CBS also had the Sunday NFL overrun for premiere week, but that one was a dud and delivered the lowest-rated Sunday overrun of the first five weeks of the football season. It can pretty much only go up from there.

Well, that’s everyone. Just kidding. We didn’t actually forget about you, ABC. But you probably would prefer it if we had, because here is where we remind ABC that they don’t stand a chance. Sorry, maybe next year.

But also not.

Tony Maglio

TV Editor • tony.maglio@thewrap.com • Twitter: @tonymaglio

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