NBC Wins Premiere Week ... With an Infinitesimal 1.1 Demo Rating

NBC series 'La Brea'
The time travelers of NBC sophomore hit 'La Brea' fell into a giant sinkhole ... just like the linear broadcast TV business is experiencing right now. (Image credit: NBCUniversal)

For the 11th consecutive year, NBC finished broadcast TV's "premiere week" with the highest rating in the all-important 18-49-year-old demo. 

The winning 1.1 rating for the week of Sept. 19-25 was nearly a third of the 2.9 demo performance generated by NBC when it started its streak back in September 2012. Last year, NBC won the first week of the 2021-22 season with a 1.3 demo rating and an average of 6.3 million viewers.

Aggregate audience has eroded quite a bit over the last decade, too -- NBC also won the week in total viewers for a fourth consecutive year, averaging 6 million this time around, which is only down about a quarter from its third-place finish of 8.2 million in 2012. 

Also read: Linear TV Is 'Hanging by a Thread,' Moffett Says

But the more youthful core demographics seem to be fleeing the broadcast ecosystem in droves. While total premiere-week viewers declined just 4% for NBC year over year, it's demo performance was down 23%,

There is a lot of discussion at media companies right now about how linear TV and theatrical distribution remain the engines of monetization, and that streaming is not ready to carry balance sheets and has been subject to irrational exuberance. 

Maybe so. 

In a report published earlier this week in which he said that linear TV is "hanging by a thread," analyst Craig Moffett noted that linear TV revenue, at $86.3 billion, is nearly four times that of streaming ($22.6 billion).

But overall pay TV subscribers fell 6.1% in Q2. And the theatrical box office just had its worst September in 25 years. 

If the visual media business is going through the same garden hose that print and audio did starting two decades ago, perhaps focusing on the destination platform might not be such a bad business strategy after all. 

Daniel Frankel

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!