Fox Ratings Drop 17 Percent in Key Demo, Six-Year-Lead Threatened

Adam Taylor/FOX

HOUSE:  House (Hugh Laurie) shares some test results with one of his clinic patients in the HOUSE episode "Selfish" airing Monday, Sept. 27 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Popular series "House" and "The Simpsons" face audience declines, leaving the network in third place for primetime.

Fox's Wednesday night ratings win is good news for the network.

The network, which is embroiled in a carriage battle with Cablevision on the East Coast, has lost nearly 17 percent of its young-adult viewers five weeks into the new television season, Bloomberg News reports.

This could knock Fox off it's No. 1 spot for the first time in six years.

Many of the News Corp. channel's hit shows are down this year, including House, which is off 34 percent, and The Simpsons at 12 percent. Fox is currently in third in the coveted advertising age group of 18-49. Family Guy is down 15 percent, and its spinoff, The Cleveland Show, has plummeted 31 percent, according to Nielsen.

Nielsen data also shows that freshman series Raising Hope and Running Wilde are 48th and 64th in key demos respectively. Fox also suffered the first ratings casualty this season, canceling Lone Star after just two episodes.

Fox gained a hearty lead last year with the Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees World Series and House's success, which put less pressure on American Idol. But, as Bloomberg points out, Idol was down 9 percent in its 18-49 audience, and without Simon Cowell for its tenth season, could have a viewer loyalty problem.

"I would imagine that there is a lot of concern over at Fox right now,” Andrew Donchin, director of national broadcast television for Carat USA, a New York-based advertising company with clients including Revlon Inc. and Pfizer Inc., told Bloomberg. "I’m sure they’re scrambling to figure out how to fix this.”

CBS leads year-to-date numbers in primetime, averaging 4.4 million viewers in the 18 to 49 demo, which is up 1 percent from last year, Bloomberg notes. NBC is in second place with 3.75 million, a 3.9 increase, and Fox is in third, down 3.73 million to 4.47 million. Despite the success of Modern Family, ABC is last, averaging 3.65 million viewers, a 7.6 percent decline.

Glee continues to be a performer for the network, currently ranking as No. 4 among 18-49 year olds, and up 39 percent this season, according to Fox numbers. An episode will be aired after the Super Bowl, Beckman says.