NBC Claims Season Title in Viewers 18-49

The September-to-May TV season has nearly concluded, and NBC has clinched the top rating in viewers 18-49, while CBS won a narrow total viewers race, edging out NBC, according to Nielsen data.

NBC has averaged a 2.2 in “most current” adults 18-49, ahead of the 1.5 put up by ABC, CBS and Fox, Nielsen said. The CW has averaged a 0.6. Paced by This Is Us, The Voice and Sunday Night Football, it is NBC’s fourth win in the choice demo in five years. NBC also had the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics this season.

CBS has averaged 9 million total viewers, just ahead of NBC’s 8.9 million, per Nielsen's data. ABC has averaged 6.1 million, Fox 4.9 million and The CW 1.7 million. It's CBS' 10th straight season win in total viewers.

The traditional TV season ends May 23.

“I’m so proud that NBC has yet again won the September to May season in the demo, but even more ecstatic that we also delivered our most competitive season in total households in many years,” said Robert Greenblatt, chair of NBC Entertainment. “In fact, for several months this spring, we surpassed CBS in total viewers and became the ‘most watched network in America,’ the first time since 2002! 

"And I predict when the numbers are in for the full September to September year--which is what we focus on--we will again be No. 1 in total viewers because of the strength of our summer lineup that includes America’s Got Talent, our biggest unscripted hit," Greeblatt added. "I’m also thrilled that we lead all networks in the demo even when you factor out sporting events, which this year included both the Olympics and the Super Bowl for us.”

NBC noted that Saturday Night Live has averaged 9.4 million views (L+7 originals only), making it the show’s second-most-watched season in 23 years, since SNL averaged 9.9 million viewers for originals at this point in 1994-95.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.