TV Season Ends With Fox Ahead in Demo, ABC Slipping to Fourth, CBS Maintaining Lead in Viewers
UPDATED: "The Voice," "Sunday Night Football" and the Super Bowl help NBC make the biggest gains, while initial numbers have ABC losing its third-place ranking among adults 18-49.
Although final tallies for the 2011-12 television season won't be available until Thursday, after the notable conclusions of American Idol and Dancing With the Stars, the year-end rankings should paint a familiar picture.
Among the all-important adults 18-49 demographic, Fox again topped the competition, averaging a 3.2 rating for the season, complementing American Idol with a steady fall showing from The X Factor. It posted the steepest drop of all networks, though, dropping three-tenths of a point (9 percent) from the previous season. ABC also slipped, though only by a tenth of a point to a 2.4. But that was enough to see it dip to fourth place behind NBC.
Riding The Voice, the Super Bowl and Sunday Night Football, which usurped Idol for the first time in eight seasons, the Peacock climbed to third place with the season's most ambitious growth: two-tenths of a point, for a 2.5 rating among adults 18-49.
NBC's advantage, however, only stands with all programming taken into account. Excluding specials, NBC and ABC are tied at a 2.5 rating. And NBC earned a whopping two-tenths of a point from its record-breaking broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI in February.
In second place, CBS added another tenth of a point for a 3.0 in the demo -- thanks in large part to its Monday night block, The Big Bang Theory and new series 2 Broke Girls and Person of Interest.
With overall viewers, CBS again topped the broadcast pack, boasting the widest margin of victory by a network in 23 years. The Eye posted a modest 1 percent bump for a primetime average of 11.75 million viewers. Fox remained in second place -- though, again, it suffered the most significant loss: more than 800,000 viewers. The network averaged 8.87 million viewers, down 8 percent, though the remaining two American Idol episodes likely will recover some of that loss.
ABC lost 1 percent of its audience for an average of 8.36 million, remaining in third place, while NBC narrowed the gap with a 5 percent bump. The network brought in an average 7.38 million viewers for the season.
The CW dropped a tenth of a point among adults 18-49 for a 0.8 rating and lost 300,000 viewers for an average audience of 1.7 million.