Upfronts 2018: How CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC and CW Rank by Ratings Ahead of Big TV Ad Sales Push

One broadcast network is up, another is even, and the other three are down from last year’s Nielsen numbers

May’s annual broadcast television upfronts period is when networks parade out their new shows and existing stars in a big-money competition for media buyers and advertising dollars.

Before the presentations, parties and weeks-long (and occasionally months-long) negotiations for fall commercials commence, it behooves both sides of the bargaining table to know exactly where they stand, TV ratings-wise. Now you can, too.

Below are the primetime Nielsen averages through 32 weeks of the 2017-18 television season. All numbers include seven days of delayed viewing where available.

First, let’s look at the ratings among adults 18-49, since that is the age range most-coveted by these broadcast primetime advertisers:

18-49 Rating
1. NBC: 2.2 (up 5% from last year’s 2.1)
2. CBS: 1.6 (down 11% from last year’s 1.8)
3. (tie) ABC: 1.5 (down 6% from last year’s 1.6)
(tie) Fox: 1.5 (down 21% from last year’s 1.9)
5. The CW: 0.6 (even with last year)

It’s important to point out here that Fox had the Super Bowl last year and NBC had it this season, which explains away a material portion of their individual movements.

Readers will notice the same respective big game-related trends among total viewers:

Total Viewers
1. NBC: 9.1 million (up 10% from last year’s 8.2 million)
2. CBS: 9.0 million (down 8% from last year’s 9.7 million)
3. ABC: 6.1 million (down 2% from last year’s 6.2 million)
4. Fox: 5.0 million (down 17% from last year’s 6.0 million)
5. The CW: 1.7 million (down 4% from last year’s 1.8 million)

Here is next week’s upfront schedule for the so-called Big 4 networks, plus The CW:
NBC (Monday)
Fox (Monday)
ABC (Tuesday)
CBS (Wednesday)
The CW (Thursday)