NBC Wins 2016-17 Season In Ratings Demo; CBS Takes Total Viewers

NBC will finish the 2016-17 TV season at No. 1 in the key 18-49 demographic group for the third time in four years. The victory marks the first time in five years any network has finished on top without the Super Bowl – or even an Olympics.

CBS will finish the season as the country’s most-watched network, hanging on to its crown for a ninth consecutive season – and 14 of the past 15.


The current TV season doesn’t officially wrap until midweek, but the all-but-final numbers mark the first in a while NBC and CBS haven’t bickered about the Super Bowl when the final full week’s stats came in. Last year, for instance, when CBS won the derby in total viewers and also in the demo, NBC had argued that, if you excluded CBS’ broadcast, NBC would have won in the demo. The season before that, when NBC won in the demo, CBS sniffed that, if you subtracted NBC’s Super Bowl broadcast, CBS would have had the demo edge for that season.

This season, Super Bowl fooled them both, airing on Fox, which, despite the game, finished the season at No. 2 in the demo, even with previous season, and No. 4 in total viewers with a slight 1% season-to-season bump. That’s saying something when you consider it was Fox’s first season without American Idol which, five seasons ago, had catapulted the network to an eighth consecutive season win in the demo. ABC is exhuming American Idol next season.

NBC crowed Tuesday about finishing the 2016-2017 TV season season at No. 1 in the demo, even if you count only entertainment programs, only scripted programs, or only alternative programs.


Meanwhile, ABC spent the day touting their No. 1 status in the demo “based on non-sports programming,” which the network said was “to account for the inflated averages from sports coverage.” Even so, ABC acknowledged it shares this title with NBC. ABC also claimed a network-leading 8 of the Top 20 entertainment series on broadcast TV this season in the demo, and the No. 1 unscripted series in The Bachelor.

CBS, meanwhile, strutted about having five of the Top 10 most-watched broadcasts in the country – as many as all the other networks combined — and 13 of its programs averaged 10 million viewers or more, outstripping all competitors.

CBS also boasted the crown jewel: The Big Bang Theory, which will finish the season as the No. 1 comedy and No. 1 scripted broadcast program in total viewers, adults 18-49, adults 25-54, and adults 18-34. This marks the 13th consecutive season CBS claims the most-watched comedy series.

CBS also mentioned that NCIS is the country’s most watched drama series for an eighth consecutive season, though CBS has boasted the most watched drama nine years in a row and 15 of the last 16 seasons. NCIS is one of eight dramas CBS has in the season’s Top 10 dramas with total viewers, also including Bull, Blue Bloods, NCIS: New Orleans, NCIS: Los Angeles, Hawaii Five-0, Madam Secretary and Criminal Minds.

NBC, however, claims the No. 1 broadcast drama in the demo, This is Us; it’s also No. 2 among all broadcast entertainment series, behind only ratings magnet Big Bang Theory.

With three nights left to the season, here is how the broadcast networks rankings shake out with the 2016-2017 primetime averages through Week 35, via Nielsen:

All Programs, Adult 18-49 Ratings, % Change From Last Season






All Programs, Total Viewers, % Change

CBS…9.6 million…-12%

NBC…8.1 million…+0.2%

ABC…6.2 million…-9%

Fox…5.8 million…+1%

CW…1.8 million…-9%

Top 20 Rated Series (18-49)

1. Sunday Night Football (NBC)
2. Thursday Night Football (NBC)
3. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
3. Sunday Night Football Pre-Kickoff (NBC)
5. Thursday Night Football (CBS)
6. This Is Us (NBC)
6. The OT (Fox)
8. Empire (Fox)
9. Football Night In America Pt. 3 (NBC)
10. Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
11. The Bachelor (ABC)
12. The Voice (NBC)
13. Thursday Night Football Pre-Kickoff (NBC)
13. The Voice-Tues (NBC)
13. Modern Family (ABC)
13. Designated Survivor (ABC)
17. Thursday Night Football Pre-Kickoff (CBS)
18. How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)
18. Big Brother-Wed (CBS)
20. Survivor (CBS)