TV Long View: DVR Catchup Slows Broadcast Bleeding, But Not by Much

Three-day ratings for the 2018-19 season show top broadcast series only recovering a small portion of their year-to-year losses from the same-day numbers.
Photofest (3)
From left: 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Young Sheldon,' '911'

Delayed viewing will always make a given show's ratings look better, but the first set of complete DVR numbers from the 2018-19 TV season show it's hardly a cure-all for losses of viewers on the front end.

Top-10 shows like ABC's Grey's Anatomy and NBC's This Is Us recovered a little bit of their season-to-season declines with three days of extra viewing. Those series are also still well behind where they were in the same measure last season. CBS' Young Sheldon and Fox's 911 are either flat or actually lost a little bit relative to their same-day numbers.

Grey's Anatomy is ABC's top-rated show among adults 18-49, coming in at a 2.6 rating in the demographic after three days of delayed viewing. That's about 13 percent behind its three-day average in 2017-18 (3.0), and also bit of an improvement on the nearly 19 percent decline the series had in the same-day ratings.

CBS' Young Sheldon, the top-rated comedy that will return next season, was down 22.6 percent in the 18-49 demo in the same-day ratings and remains at exactly that number after three days. Fox's top drama, 911, retreated slightly, going from a 21 percent dip in the same-day ratings to being down 22 percent after three days.

This Is Us, meanwhile, narrowed its losses from 34.5 percent in the same-day 18-49 ratings to just under 32 percent after three days. (The declines are somewhat steeper than they might otherwise be as the NBC drama had a post-Super Bowl airing in 2018.)

Even Chicago Fire, which was up in the same-day ratings, is off slightly year to year after three days. Through May 12, it was even with last season in the seven-day tally.

Some of those lost viewers may have migrated to digital platforms, which Nielsen doesn't measure in these ratings. But while delayed viewing makes up some, it can't plug all the leaks.

Below are the top 25 non-sports shows (including ties) for the 2018-19 season in live-plus-3 ratings, along with comparisons to their averages from 2017-18 where applicable.

Adults 18-49

Rank Show Network Live +3 18-49 rating Plus/minus vs. 2017-18
1 The Masked Singer Fox 3.5 n/a
2 The Big Bang Theory CBS 3.4 -0.6 (-15%)
3 This Is Us NBC 3.2 -1.5 (-31.9%)
4 Grey's Anatomy ABC 2.6 -0.4 (-13.3%)
5 Manifest NBC 2.4 n/a
  Young Sheldon CBS 2.4 -0.7 (-22.6%)
7 The Bachelor ABC 2.3 +0.1 (+4.5%)
8 The Good Doctor ABC 2.1 -1.1 (-34.4%)
  911 Fox 2.1 -0.6 (-22.2%)
  The Conners ABC 2.1 n/a
  America's Got Talent: The Champions NBC 2.1 n/a
12 Modern Family ABC 2.0 -0.5 (-20%)
  Survivor CBS 2.0 -0.2 (-9.1%)
14 New Amsterdam NBC 1.9 n/a
  The Voice - Monday NBC 1.9 -0.5 (-20.8%)
16 Chicago PD NBC 1.8 -0.2 (-10%)
  Chicago Fire NBC 1.8 -0.1 (-5.3%)
  Empire Fox 1.8 -0.7 (-28%)
19 A Million Little Things ABC 1.7 n/a
  NCIS CBS 1.7 -0.2 (-10.5%)
  Chicago Med NBC 1.7 -0.2 (-10.5%)
  The Voice - Tuesday NBC 1.7 -0.5 (-22.7%)
23 Law & Order: SVU NBC 1.6 -0.3 (-15.8%)
  Last Man Standing Fox 1.6 even (vs. 2016-17 on ABC)
  The Goldbergs ABC 1.6 -0.3 (-15.8%)
  Mom CBS 1.6 -0.3 (-15.8%)
  American Idol - Sunday ABC 1.6 -0.4 (-20%)
  The Titan Games NBC 1.6 n/a
  Ellen's Game of Games NBC 1.6 -0.6 (-27.3%)


Total Viewers

Rank Show Network Live +3 viewers (millions) Plus/minus vs. 2017-18 (millions)
1 The Big Bang Theory CBS 16.88 -2.02 (-10.7%)
2 NCIS CBS 14.85 -2.17 (-12.7%)
3 Young Sheldon CBS 13.93 -2.56 (-15.5%)
4 This Is Us NBC 12.23 -5.21 (-29.9%)
5 Blue Bloods CBS 12.15 -1.14 (-8.6%)
6 America's Got Talent:
The Champions
NBC 11.85 n/a
7 FBI CBS 11.67 n/a
8 The Good Doctor ABC 11.24 -5.48 (-32.8%)
9 Manifest NBC 11.11 n/a
10 The Masked Singer FOX 10.88 n/a
11 Chicago Fire NBC 10.85 +0.85 (+8.5%)
12 60 Minutes CBS 10.65 -0.8 (-7%)
13 Chicago Med NBC 10.58 +0.1 (+1%)
14 The Voice - Monday NBC 10.38 -1.49 (-12.6%)
15 Bull CBS 10.26 -4.27 (-29.4%)
16 Chicago PD NBC 10.19 -0.31 (-3%)
17 NCIS: New Orleans CBS 9.92 -2.69 (-21.3%)
18 Mom CBS 9.82 -1.27 (-11.5%)
19 New Amsterdam NBC 9.76 n/a
20 The Voice - Tuesday NBC 9.66 -1.75 (-15.3%)
21 Hawaii Five-0 CBS 9.65 -1.59 (-14.1%)
22 NCIS: Los Angeles CBS 9.56 -1.15 (-10.7%)
23 Grey's Anatomy ABC 9.41 -1.69 (-15.2%)
24 The Conners ABC 9.33 n/a
25 Survivor CBS 9.20 -1.16 (-11.2%)

Source: Nielsen, THR research

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