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ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW: See Network TV Rankings as New Season Kicks Off

Super Bowl 50 could be the deciding factor in who wins ratings race

NBC has won the last two seasons’ TV ratings battles in a row, but to score a trifecta, the broadcast network might need a miracle.

You see, NBC won two years ago thanks largely to the Sochi Winter Olympics. And last year, Super Bowl rights proved as big — and necessary — a boost from a single broadcast as any network can get. But this season, CBS has the highly coveted Super Bowl 50, and NBC’s Summer Olympics won’t come until, well, summer — which by definition is not part of the fall season. Coupled with an already solid schedule, which is bolstered by the return of “Thursday Night Football” and shift of “Big Bang Theory” to Mondays, Les Moonves and co. can all but pop the champagne for the fall competition.

All hope is not lost for NBC — the network still has “Sunday Night Football,” which tends to be the top show on TV, competing more with “The Walking Dead” that anything of its own ilk. Plus, “The Voice” will perform for the peacock, as per usual. But it’s not just CBS that NBC has to contend with — ABC really surged last fall, thanks in large part to “Black-ish” and adding “How to Get Away With Murder” to Shondaland Thursdays.

While Fox is probably no real threat to the top of the heap without the Super Bowl, the current fourth-place network does have “Empire” returning early. The Lee Daniels‘ hip-hop soap opera will also have more episodes this season versus last, which could help goose the overall network average. Plus, Fox’s NFL coverage could boost primetime on certain Sundays, and the network has high hopes for freshman dramedy “Scream Queens.”

As for the CW, well, let’s just saying it’s a work in progress — but the youth-skewing channel again won’t challenge the Big 4 in their key 18-49 demographic.

Below are the full rankings from last fall in both the demo and among total viewers, where CBS snagged the crown yet again.

Expect a clean sweep overall for America’s Most Watched Network this fall. All NBC can do is bank on hanging in the game and dominating the summer, to potentially bring home the full 52-week title once more. Nielsen’s fall season technically kicks off primetime on Monday night.

Adults 18-49
1. NBC: 2.4
2. CBS: 2.3
3. ABC: 2.2
4. Fox: 2.0
5. CW: 0.9

Total Viewers
1. CBS: 11.341 million
2. NBC: 8.734 million
3. ABC: 8.089 million
4. Fox: 5.870 million
5. CW: 2.183 million