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CBS Claims Another Total Viewers Crown, But Linear Broadcast Audience Is Half of What It Was Back in 2011-12

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

CBS said it once again generated the biggest audience among the major broadcast networks for the soon-to-finish November-May broadcast TV season, averaging 6.35 million viewers.

That audience ranks above the 6.25 million viewers averaged by NBC this season, and it puts CBS in the position of marketing itself as "America's Most Watched Network" for a 14th consecutive year, and 19 out of the last 20 years.

Total Viewers:
CBS - 6.35 million
NBC - 6.25 million
Fox - 4.68 million
ABC - 4.19 million

The outcome has been different for the full 52-week ratings competition in recent years. NBC ranked first in primetime viewer average and in the all-important demo for the full 2020-21 year. 

According to Nielsen data through May 1, NBC also won this season's demo crown with a 1.2 rating among viewers 18-49. 

Ratings for Adults 18-49:
NBC - 1.2
Fox - 1.1
CBS - 0.8
ABC - 0.7

Going back a decade, CBS won the 2011-12 season prime-time audience title by averaging 12 million viewers, an audience nearly twice the size of CBS' current viewership. 

"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. That's a huge testament to our talent, producers and the CBS team," said Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, in a statement. 

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!