When the TV ratings reports come out, we (and every other network exec and TV geek) mostly concentrate on two numbers: total viewers and the key demo of 18-49. That’s all well and good, but when you widen your advertiser-friendly tunnel vision, there are more odd and fascinating nuggets to be found in the farther-flung categories exhaustively broken down by Nielsen. Which reality show mesmerizes the most kids ages 2-5? What series do the one percent least enjoy? How many NBC shows does it take to equal the audience for one episode of NCIS? We have bathed in ratings reports and come up with 28 illuminating, surprising, counterintuitive, and, yes, sometimes thoroughly demoralizing factoids about who is watching what.
Young girls need better role models: Despite its content and 10 p.m. time slot, ABC’s Revenge averages a 0.6 rating with girls 2-11, doubling the 0.3 NBC’s Parks and Rec pulls at 8:30 p.m. Overall, Parks is the lowest-rated comedy on the broadcast nets with kiddies. Come on, parents, could kids ask for a better inspiration than Leslie Knope?
Teens have virtually no idea NBC exists: The network has only one non-sports show in the top 50 in this age group: The Office. Meanwhile, Fox has the teen demo cornered, with the top two shows with male teens (Family Guy, American Dad) and female teens (Glee and New Girl).
For example, among women under 50, Grey’s Anatomy remains red-hot, ranking as the No. 3 show on TV in that demo, with a 7.5 rating. But just a third as many dudes dig McDreamy et al.: It ranks No. 47 for them. Conversely, The Simpsons is still in the top ten with boys under 50, ranking No. 8 with a 4.8 rating; with the ladies, Homer rates No. 52 overall. Men and women are more in sync about Two and a Half Men, however: It’s the No. 2 show on TV among both men and women.
Photo: Jordin Althaus/? 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
The least-watched network show of the season to date: The CW’s quickly canceled H8R, which averaged just 1.3 million viewers in its three airings. But don’t worry: The CW still has bragging rights to the dubious honor of airing the lowest-rated network show, thanks to Gossip Girl. Just 1.5 million viewers visit the UES each week to check out the Greatest Show of Our Time. -1,000!
Photo: Giovanni Rufino
Not counting football, NBC has zero shows in Nielsen’s list of the 40 most-watched shows on TV. The NBC series with the biggest audience is Law & Order: SVU, which comes in at No. 41 overall, with 9.4 million viewers. That show’s rating among adults 18-49, a 2.9, is lower than every 10 p.m. drama on CBS and ABC, save for Body of Proof.
Photo: Art Streiber/? NBCUniversal, Inc.
How much is NBC’s Thursday comedy block hurting? If you take the total audience of Community, Parks, The Office, and Whitney, it would equal 21.3 million viewers. That’s less than CBS’s NCIS, which averages 21.5 million viewers. Meanwhile, ABC’s now-canceled Charlie’s Angels was drawing a bigger audience than fourteen NBC shows, including Parenthood, Grimm, Parks and Rec, Community, Whitney, The Sing-Off, Chuck, Up All Night, and Prime Suspect. Hey, thankfully, demos are what count most; Charlie’s averaged a 1.7 rating in adults 18-49, lower than all of those Peacock shows (except poor Prime Suspect)
Photo: Justin Lubin/? NBCUniversal, Inc.
The X Factor is doing darn well for Fox, ranking in the top fifteen among viewers under 50 and helping the network improve its overall performance this fall by double digits. But if we’re being honest, Simon, we must note that in the core demo, X is still lower-rated than CBS’s very old NCIS and How I Met Your Mother, ABC’s ancient Grey’s Anatomy, and newbies such as 2 Broke Girls and New Girl. And if you just look at overall eyeballs, CBS’s Blue Bloods (buried on Fridays and the beneficiary of probably zero magazine articles the past few months) and Unforgettable both have a bigger audience this season (each average around 13.9 million) than the Thursday episodes of X (13.2), which get that show’s biggest numbers of its two weekly airings. Maybe the X producers can see if Tom Selleck sings.
Fox’s four Sunday toons are TV’s top four shows with teen boys 12-17. No. 5? Two and a Half Men.
Photo: © 2011 FOX BROADCASTING
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams averages around 8.5 million viewers each week, ahead of every entertainment show on NBC’s prime-time lineup except for SVU and Harry’s Law. By contrast, The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley averages about 6 million viewers. That’s less than every single entertainment show CBS airs in prime time.
Young women hate nerds: Among females 18-34, the lowest-rated scripted show on any network, including the CW, is Chuck, with a 0.7 rating.
Photo: Jordin Althaus/? NBCUniversal, Inc.
In its three airings on NBC, The Playboy Club averaged a 2.1 rating with women 18-34. The Good Wife is currently averaging a 1.6 rating with that same demo. This would not be heartening news to Gloria Steinem
Photo: Jeffrey Neira/?2011 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
They love three things: Dancing With the Stars, NCIS, and Tom Selleck. DWTS is a blockbuster in this demo, with its Monday performance show No. 1 with a 17.8 rating and its results show No. 3. The No. 2 and No. 4 slots belong to NCIS and NCIS: LA, respectively. And Selleck’s Blue Bloods is No. 5 with older women. Meanwhile, your grandparents must like vagina jokes: Among viewers over 65, 2 Broke Girls averages a 4.4 rating, while Modern Family manages a mere 3.7 (below Man Up! and The Middle).
Photo: Adam Taylor/ABC
Fox’s top two scripted shows among all viewers over 50 are Bones and Terra Nova. Make your own creaky-bones and dinosaur jokes. Meanwhile, young folks don’t dig dramas: Only two of them are in Nielsen’s top 10 with adults under 50 — NCIS and Grey’s Anatomy.
USA’s 8 p.m. repeats of NCIS on Wednesday draw slightly more viewers (4 million) than NBC’s now-dead Free Agents did on the same night. These repeats continue to outdraw every show on the CW, Fox’s Cops, and poor, poor Chuck.
The median income of its adults 18-49 viewership is $83,000, the highest of any network entertainment show in prime time. The Office, Parenthood, and Parks and Rec are right behind (their viewers all have a median income of $78,000).
Photo: Peter “Hopper” Stone/? 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
The ABC comedy also has the highest average rating among adults 18-49 who make more than $100,000 per year: 13.6. The second- and third-place shows — Two and a Half Men (9.0) and New Girl (8.2) — are far behind.
Photo: Richard Foreman/? 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
The network show rich people like the least? Fox’s Cops, which averages a mere 0.6 rating in upscale adults 18-49. Among scripted series, CBS’s A Gifted Man is least popular, with a 1.3 rating.
It’s the No. 1 new show among Hispanic viewers aged 18-49. Young African-Americans, meanwhile, dig Simon: The X Factor is the No. 1 new show in that group.
Yes, CBS has plenty of hit shows with young people (seven of the top 10 in adults 18-49) and is currently a close No. 2 behind Fox in the demo. But while it’s averaging a 3.5 rating with adults under 50, it is an absolute monster with the old folks, averaging a whopping 8.8 with viewers 65 and over. But ABC, for years known as a “young” network, is giving the Eye a run for its money in the Granny demo. Castle averages a denture-dropping 12.2 rating with female viewers eligible for Social Security. (Well, that Nathan Fillion is a very nice young man.) Another way of looking at how ABC has closed the age gap with CBS: While the Eye has the oldest median age of the broadcast nets (55), ABC is just two years behind (53). NBC is the third oldest (48), while Fox, while older than it used to be (46), remains the youngest-skewing of the Big Four.
Photo: Richard Cartwright/? 2010 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
NBC may not have a lot of viewers, but the viewers it does have are well educated. The Peacock boasts eight of the top ten shows with the greatest concentration of adults 18-49 with four or more years of college. The top three: Parks and Recreation, The Office, and Community. The scripted show with the smallest concentration of viewers with four years of college? Secret Circle, but that’s likely because most of its audience is still in high school.
Photo: Adam Rose/? NBCUniversal, Inc.
Fox’s Fringe gets the biggest percentage boost from time-shifting: Probably thanks to its Friday-night berth, it adds 133 percent more adults 18-49 viewers from DVRs. 90210, Up All Night, Modern Family, and Supernatural round out the top five most-DVRed shows this season. The show nobody bothers to DVR? America’s Funniest Home Videos, which adds just 7 percent to its total. Trampoline accidents clearly need to be watched in real time.
TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles, with nearly 9 million viewers, is the most-watched scripted show on cable this season, and its overall audience is bigger than every show on NBC save SVU and Harry’s Law. But: RizzIsles is also very old-skewing, with a median viewer age of 57 (only The Closer and Memphis Beat are older, with a median age of 58).
FX has three of the top ten shows among adults 18-49 in that space, including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Wilfred, and The League. Archer and Louie are also in the top twenty.
The CW bills itself as the network for the young, what with all those teenagers running around the 90210 and fighting off vampires and witches on Thursday nights. Its numbers aren’t going in the right direction for that brand, however: The C-Dub is up over last season by 20 percent among viewers over 55 (perhaps the result of picking up the Ringer pilot from CBS), but they’re down 30 percent in the network’s target demo of women 18-34. Meanwhile, Fox seems to be doing super-well with both the very young (up 36 percent in kids 2-11) and very old (up 25 percent with adults older than 65).
Photo: MICHAEL DESMOND/©2011 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved.
The Alphabet this season has nine of the top fifteen shows among women 18-24 watching in university dorms. Fox’s New Girl and Glee are the top two shows, followed by ABC’s Modern Family and, in a bit of a stunner, newcomer Once Upon a Time. College women also dig Dancing With the Stars, The Office, Criminal Minds, Hawaii Five-0, and Desperate Housewives, all of which finished in the top tier of shows in this demo.
American Horror Story has become a cable drama powerhouse in no time at all. After less than two months on the air, it’s now doing bigger numbers with viewers under 50 than cable titans such as Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, White Collar, and The Closer. It’s still got a while to go, however, before it catches cable leaders Walking Dead, True Blood, Sons of Anarchy, The Game, and, surprisingly, Falling Skies.
So far this season, TV’s most-watched syndicated show is Wheel of Fortune, which is averaging 10.4 million viewers. That’s a bigger audience than prime-time staples such as The Simpsons, Private Practice, Bones, and The Biggest Loser. Among adults 18-49, Chuck Lorre has the two top shows in syndication: Repeats of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory are the biggest hits in the demo.