Not only did Super Bowl XLVIII break viewership records for Fox, it appears that it will also likely land the network in first place for the season overall — temporarily at least.
Fox projects that when final Sunday numbers for all networks become available on Tuesday, it will leap past NBC — moving from third to first — to take over the top spot in the season-to-date ratings race for the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic.
Fox says that it will soar to a 2.9 average in the key demo versus NBC’s 2.8. Another network tells TheWrap that Fox may land as high as a 3.0 due to the Super Bowl Sunday boost. After all, the last time that Fox carried the Super Bowl, in 2011, its season average improved that week by 0.5 of a point (up to a 3.4 from the prior week’s 2.9). The same result would net the 3.0.
Season averages prior to the current week were: NBC, 2.9; CBS, 2.6; Fox, 2.5; ABC, 2.1.
An insider from a third network concurred that the third-to-first leap is likely, but added that it will be “very temporary,” guessing that the victory lap will last maybe a week, “two at most,” telling TheWrap that NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage — which launches competition on Thursday and the opening ceremony on Friday — would soon reverse Sunday’s leap.
In reality, Fox is aiming for second place overall when the season ends, but knows that third is a possibility. Network Chairman Kevin Reilly has predicted several times that Fox would likely not win the season in the key demo.