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CBS will claim the lead among total viewers for the 2021-22 TV season, marking the 14th straight year the network has topped its broadcast rivals in that measure.
NBC, which had both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics during the season, will likely end up on top in the key ad demographic of adults 18-49 — for the eighth time in the past nine seasons — but fall just shy of CBS’ viewer tally.
Through May 1, CBS is averaging 6.35 million viewers in primetime, about 100,000 more than the 6.25 million for NBC. With only about 3 1/2 weeks left in the September-to-May season, NBC is unlikely to make up the difference.
“The strength and depth of our core CBS series, the top new comedies and dramas on television, our iconic alternative programming, world-class sports franchises, plus the finest news program in the history of television, provided us with the power to surge to the top of the broadcast landscape for the 14th consecutive season,” said CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl in a statement. “That’s a huge testament to our talent, producers and the CBS team. Additionally, these incredibly popular series have been a key driver in the growth and success of our streaming service, Paramount+.”
Veteran shows like NCIS and Young Sheldon — broadcast TV’s most watched drama and comedy — helped lead CBS to the win. The network also has the top new comedy and drama of the season in Ghosts and NCIS: Hawai’i.
CBS also declared an early victory in primetime viewers last season, though its margin then of about 870,000 viewers considerably wider. The network aired the Super Bowl in 2021, which accounted for the bigger gap between first and second place.
Fox (4.68 million viewers), which got help from higher Thursday Night Football ratings this season, is on pace to finish third for the season, ahead of ABC (4.19 million). CBS, Fox and NBC are all ahead of last season’s total viewer averages, while ABC is down by 12 percent, or 570,000 viewers. Spanish language broadcasters Univision (1.5 million) and Telemundo (1 million) rank ahead of The CW (665,000).
Among adults 18-49, NBC currently stands at a 1.2 rating in primetime, equivalent to about 1.55 million people in that age group. The Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics helped push the network up a tenth of a point vs. the same time a year ago. Fox is currently in second at 1.1, even with last season, while both CBS (0.8) and ABC (0.7) are below the 1.0 line, as are Univision (0.5), Telemundo (0.3) and The CW (0.1).
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