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A Postscript to the 2008-09 TV Season

Ratings for the full 52-week campaign show Fox is still No. 1. NBC, however, gets a little boost.

Most of TV land today is rightfully focused on the 2009-10 season, which officially kicked off Monday. But there’s one ratings nugget from last year that’s worth a mention, just for the record.


Ratings are in for the full 52-week 2008-09 season, which ran from last September through Sunday night. And guess what: Fox is still No. 1.


The network averaged a 3.1 demo rating for the full calendar year, matching its standing in the September-May season.


CBS again ranked in second place among adults 18-49, with a 2.6 rating.


But, in a reflection of its relative summer strength, NBC managed to end the year in third place, with a 2.5 rating. ABC, which didn’t have a whole lot of luck this summer and boasts a lineup of shows that don’t repeat well, was right behind, with a 2.4.


So what does it all mean? After all, most ratings analysts and network execs consider the TV season over in May. The summer is just something they try to get through.


NBC, of course, likes the full year number since by that measure, it’s not in the ratings basement. Point taken.


What the year-long averages really show, however, is that the network race remains extraordinarily tight among the second, third and fourth place networks.


But the numbers also underline the fact that, increasingly, overall network averages aren’t the end all, be all of a network’s performance. What really counts is having big hits and success across multiple nights.


We now return you to the regularly scheduled 2009-10 season.