An already bad month is getting worse for NBC. For the first time in sweeps history, the network is projected to finish fifth in the key adults 18-49 demographic. That’s a crushing blow for NBC, which went from flying high in November with a sweep win & Steve Burke breaking his usual silence last fall to brag to the New York Times about the network’s performance to its shows cratering and ratings plunging. From the beginning of the February sweep on January 31 through February 19, NBC has averaged a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49. That’s below the 1.5 that Univision has been averaging so far over the 20 night of the sweep period. In fact, Univision has bested NBC every single night of the sweep so far among adults 18-49 and is poised to overtake NBC for its first fourth-place sweep finish in the demo. While this isn’t the first time Univision has topped one of the Big Three for a month (it ranked higher than CBS in July 2010 and 2012), it is the first time the Spanish-language network has beaten NBC and the first time it has come in fourth place in an in-season sweep. In addition to Univision, NBC also ranks below the 1.7 18-49 rating that ABC has been averaging this sweep, as well as the 2.0 rating for Fox and the 4.9 rating for leader CBS, which of course is buoyed by its broadcast of the Super Bowl on February 3 and the Grammy Awards on February 10.
NBC suffered the lowest ratings ever for an in-season scripted series premiere with the debut of Do No Harm on January 31. The dismal 0.9/3 of the premiere fell 22% to 0.7/2 on February 7, leading to the series’ swift cancellation. The White House comedy 1600 Penn is probably not far behind, having hit a weak 1.1/3 in its last airing February 7. Adding to NBC’s woes, the Season 2 return of Smash was a train wreck. With a limp 1.1/3 rating, it returned down 71% from its Season 1 debut and 39% from its first-year finale — and it fell another 25% to a series low of 0.9/2 this week.
With ratings juggernaut The Voice not back until March 25, freshman Revolution still off and no more NFL football, the entire NBC schedule is struggling mightily, with only The Biggest Loser and The Office averaging a 2+ 18-49 rating In Live+Same Day. NBC actually won last year’s February sweep with an average rating of 3.7, when the network was fuelled by carrying the Super Bowl and the strong start of The Voice.