The 2015-2016 TV season doesn’t officially wrap until mid-week, but CBS will finish No. 1 in the 18-49 demographic for the second time in the last four years which, coincidentally, is the last time it had the Super Bowl, as it did this soon-to-wrap season. You may have heard CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves mention the win during his Carnegie Hall upfront presentation, when he also was mentioning CBS winning the season in the 25-54 age bracket and in overall audience.
Last year, when NBC won the season in the key 18-49 demo thanks to Super Bowl XLIX, CBS wanted us to know that if you subtracted that Super Bowl, CBS had the slight edge for the season – which was like a trick question because, of course, there is no reality in which there is no Super Bowl Sunday.
This season, NBC is returning the compliment, insissting that, if you exclude this season’s CBS Super Bowl broadcast, NBC would finish ahead of CBS in the demo for the season. This year, however, CBS being the broadcaster of the Denver Broncos’ 24-10 blowout of Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, enjoyed by 111.2 million viewers, CBS has had a change of heart and argues you can’t remove just the Super Bowl, silly! You’d have to remove all NFL broadcasts from all networks, because fair is fair. In which case, CBS says, it still would be first, not only in the demo, but in total viewers and adults 25-54 for the season.
CBS’ season result is a win on several fronts, in that CBS landed the most series in the demo’s Top-20 list (six), and CBS’ demo ratings result is flat compared to its last season result though, to recap, it did not have last season’s Super Bowl broadcast. Flat, as you know, being the new Up. Among the network’s new crop of series this season, comedy Life In Pieces fared best, enjoying a strong lead-in from The Big Bang Theory, which was the season’s No. 1 comedy among 18-49 year olds, 18-34 year olds, 25-54 year olds and total viewers. The net’s BBT (20.4M) and NCIS (20.2M) were the only Big 4 series to crack the 20M Viewers Club, marking the 14th time in the past 15 seasons CBS has had the most watched drama series, and the 12th consecutive season the network claimed the most watched comedy.
Fox also is flat compared to its previous season’s 1.9 result, which is a big improvement over last season, when Fox plunged 24% and crashed from second place into fourth. Fox wraps this season in third place. The network enjoyed more Empire this season than last, saw strong numbers for its X-Files resuscitation, and decent swan-song season stats for American Idol which, just four season ago, had catapulted the network to an eighth consecutive season win in the demo. Fox has next season’s Super Bowl.
After inching upward last season by 5% and into third place, ABC this nearly wrapped season tumbled 18% and back into No. 4 status. As it had done at the end of last season, ABC again notes that, if you remove sports from the equation, ABC ranks No. 1 this season in the demo – this time tying CBS with a 1.9 rating. Congratulations on another great season to recently replaced ABC Entertainment chief Paul Lee. ABC’s most promising new series this season, Quantico, which accounts for star Priyanka Chopra having been featured so prominently at the start of ABC’s upfront presentation to media buyers, and the impressive four costume changes.
NBC also dropped, 12%, from last year’s top-ranked 2.4 rating, but gets the No Super Bowl pass on that. NBC’s Sunday Night Football was primetime’s No 1 ranked broadcast series, delivering the most watched season ever of the network franchise, and the most watched season for an NFL prime package in 19 years: 21.4M viewers. NBC also boasts this season’s most successful new Big 4 series at attracting viewers in the key 18-49 age bracket: Blindspot. And its new non-scripted series, Little Big Shots, was tops in total viewers among Big 4’s freshman crop.
CW got to declare a state of flat-ness, matching last season’s 0.8, with big thanks to The Flash which continues as its highest rated and most watched series
And, if you attended CBS’ upfront presentation last week, you’ve probably heard the one about CBS winning the season in overall audience for the eighth consecutive season and 13th time in 14 years, with an average of 10.9M. Even so, CBS slipped slightly compared to last season’s 11.3M viewers. NBC’s 8.1M is down 6% compared to last season’s 8.6M, but NBC points out it’s the network’s best total-viewer tally in a season without a Super Bowl or Olympics boost since the 2006-2007 TV season. How many seasons has NBC not had a Games or Super Bowl boost since the 2006-07 TV season? Well, NBC had Summer Olympics in 2008, a Super Bowl in February of 2009, a Winter Olympics in 2010, a Summer Olympics and a Super Bowl in 2012, a Winter Olympics in 2014 and the Super Bowl in 2015. You do the math: my head hurts.
ABC’s 6.8M marks a 15% tumble from last season’s 8M. Fox can claim success, being the only network to match its previous season’s total-viewer average (5.8M). CW dropped 7%, to 2.0M.
Here are average network viewership stats for the 2015-2016 TV season:
Now, an asterisk about this season’s Super Bowl. While the NFL celebrated the monster-franchise’s 50th anniversary, record viewership did not result. The Broncos’ 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers scored 112M viewers, extending best-ever status for NBC’s Super Bowl broadcast last season, which had clocked an historic 114.5 million viewers. Among adults 18-49, the Broncos’ win drew a 46.6 rating. That’s a dip of 1.9% from last year’s result of 47.5 when the New England Patriots ground out a win over the reigning champ Seattle Seahawks.
Here are Top 20 Rated Series of the 2015-16 TV Season:
Sunday Night Football (NBC)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Thursday Night Football (CBS)
The X-Files (Fox)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
The Voice (NBC)
How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Modern Family (ABC)
The Voice – Tues (NBC)
The Bachelor (ABC)
American Idol – Wed (Fox)
Criminal Minds (CBS)
American Idol – Thurs (Fox)
The Blacklist (NBC)
Life In Pieces (CBS)