NBC is set to win its fifth straight September-to-September season in the key 18-49 demo’s TV ratings — and claim that same 52-week span in terms of total viewers, which is the first time in 16 years we can report the latter part of that statement.
That new ratings trophy comes to NBC courtesy of Nielsen winners like the sophomore season of “This Is Us,” Super Bowl LII and the 2018 Winter Olympics.
While NBC won this 52-week round in overall eyeballs, it’s important to keep in mind CBS took the traditional TV season (September-May) in total viewers in primetime, daytime and late night.
Here’s how the broadcast networks rank in total viewers through Week 50, according to the “most recent” data from Nielsen, which includes seven days worth of delayed viewing where available: NBC, 7.8 million; CBS 7.7 million; ABC, 5.5 million; Fox, 4.2 million; CW, 1.5 million. The last time NBC came in No. 1 in total viewers was the 2001-02 season.
NBC takes the lead in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 range, with a 1.8 rating vs. a 1.3 for both ABC and CBS. Fox is sitting at 1.2.
In addition to reclaiming the demo throne, NBC is the top network in every other major demo, marking the first time in 10 years a network has won the September to September season in every key demographic and total viewers. Fox last had that honor in 2007-2008.
While the PyeongChang games and showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots certainly helped carry NBC to another win, the network’s last 52-week streak (September 2016-2017) proved it could be done without either of those events. That “W” was NBC’s first year-long victory without an Olympics or Super Bowl in 14 years.
NBC is also about to close out its eighth straight summer atop the Nielsen leaderboard, thanks in large part to “America’s Got Talent,” “World of Dance” and “American Ninja Warrior.”
“I’m extremely pleased that NBC has prevailed once again in 18-49 and all demos, but we’re obviously thrilled to become America’s Most-Watched Network in total viewers for the first time in 16 years,” said NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt. “I’m so proud of our incomparable teams and all our division leaders — especially chief programmers Paul Telegdy, Tracey Pakosta, Lisa Katz, Pearlena Igbokwe, and Meredith Ahr — whose consistent hard work, strategic thinking, and relentless drive have pushed the network to this dominant position in a marketplace that is more competitive and challenging than at any other time in history.
“No doubt the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics (and NFL football) combined to help deliver a record number of viewers to the network this year, but it’s significant to note that even excluding sports from all the averages we are still #1 in the key 18-49 demo for scripted programming and/or unscripted programming, not to mention first in total viewers in the unscripted category. Big hits like ‘This Is Us,’ the Chicago franchise, ‘The Good Place,’ ‘Will & Grace, ‘America’s Got Talent,’ ‘World of Dance,’ ‘The Voice,’ and ‘Ellen’s Game of Games’ — to name but a few — are extremely popular, yes, but they also represent a level of upscale quality that continues to define the NBC brand.”
Below are the most current primetime averages through Week 50.