NBC Claims Second Consecutive Primetime Season Crown

Universal City, CA

NBC finishes No. 1 for the full 52-week 2014-15 primetime television season in adults 18-49, winning its second-straight season.

NBC has clinched first place for the full 52-week 2014-15 primetime ratings season in the key demographic of adults 18-49, the network’s second consecutive victory after going the prior nine seasons without a No. 1 finish.

In "most current" averages from Nielsen Media Research through Sept. 13, with one week left to count in the 52-week season, NBC is averaging a 2.1 rating in adults 18-49 to rank No. 1 for the season, holding an advantage that is virtually certain to stand when full 52-week averages are in.

Even taking NBC’s boost from last February’s Super Bowl out of the network’s averages, NBC still wins the season in viewers 18-49 (with a 2.0 rating for NBC excluding the Super Bowl vs. a 1.9 each for ABC and CBS).

In adults 18-49, NBC has now won the fourth quarter three years in a row, the November sweep three years in a row and the February sweep two years in a row, and is poised to win a fifth summer in a row.

NBC has finished No. 1 or tied for No. 1 among the Big 4 networks during 28 weeks so far this season (L+SD), doubling the closest network, ABC with 12 weekly wins, including ties. CBS has won or tied for No. 1 during eight weeks and Fox has also won or tied during eight weeks. Note that the last time NBC aired a Super Bowl (2011-12), it won 11 weeks that season, three of which were Olympic weeks.

NBC’s current unbeaten streak of 10 weeks in a row ranking No. 1 or tied for No. 1 in 18-49 matches the longest for any network in six years, since Fox won 17 weeks in a row in 2009 from the week of Feb. 2 to the week of May 25, 2009. The 10-week streak also equals NBC’s longest in 12 years, since the network finished No. 1 or tied for No. 1 for 16 consecutive weeks in 2003 from the week of May 26 through the week of Sept. 8, 2003.

NBC also ranked No. 1 or tied for No. 1 among ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox for six consecutive nights from Sunday, Sept. 6 through Friday, Sept. 11, the network’s longest nightly unbeaten streak without Olympic help in 22 months, since a six-night stretch from Sunday, Dec. 1-Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. The six-night unbeaten streak matches NBC’s longest without an Olympic boost in nearly 18 years, since an eight-night streak from Thursday Oct. 16-Thursday Oct. 23, 1997.

In addition to NBC’s season-long win in adults 18-49, the network also ranks No. 1 or tied for No. 1 for the season in adults 25-54, adults 18-34, and all key adults-male demos. In total viewers, NBC ranks No. 2 for the season (with or without the Super Bowl boost being counted in its average).

In adult 18-49 rating among Big 4 primetime programs, NBC’s schedule includes the #1 series on the broadcast networks, Sunday Night Football (with an 7.6 rating, L+7); the #1 reality series, The Voice (4.0); and the No. 1 summer series, America’s Got Talent (2.9, "most current").

Among the NBC series that have increased their audiences this season versus last were: America’s Got Talent (+8 percent, 12.5 million vs. 11.5 million), Chicago P.D. (+10 percent, 9.1 million vs. 8.2 million), Law & Order: SVU (+8 percent, 9.0 million vs. 8.3 million, for its most-watched season in five years), American Ninja Warrior (+22 percent, 7.2 million vs. 5.9 million) and Dateline Mystery (+11 percent, 5.5 million vs. 4.9 million).

It was also an exceptional season for NBC specials:

  • February’s Super Bowl, which averaged 114.4 million viewers in L+SD, making it the most-watched telecast in U.S. TV history.

  • February’s SNL 40, NBC’s top entertainment program, excluding post-Super Bowl shows, in 10 years and the most-watched SNL telecast in 22 years.

  • December’s Peter Pan Live!, which delivered NBC’s second-biggest non-sports Thursday in total viewers in more than five years.

  • January’s Golden Globes, which outrated every Globes telecast from 2008 through 2012.

  • November’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which delivered the event’s second-most-watched telecast (22.6 million) in 13 years.

Additionally, NBC ruled the season in late-night, with The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers outdelivering their ABC and CBS time-period competition in every key ratings category. Tonight topped CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman this season by a +104 percent margin in adults 18-49 rating (1.14 vs. 0.56, "most current," when Letterman’s run concluded) and is beating ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live by +80 percent (1.10 vs. 0.61). Meyers leads CBS’s Late Late Show by a +47 percent advantage (0.47 vs. 0.32) and Nightline in their head-to-head half-hour by +33 percent (0.52 vs. 0.39).

Last week, Fallon outdelivered the premiere week of CBS’s Late Night with Stephen Colbert by a +28 percent margin in adults 18-49 and topped Colbert three of four nights in 18-49 and total viewers. Meyers beat CBS’s Late Late Show with James Corden for the week by a +63 percent advantage in 18-49 and even outscored ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live by a +33 percent margin despite a start time of one hour later. Both Fallon and Meyers delivered their strongest weeks in 18-49 and total viewers since February.

NBC News is also generating No. 1 results, with NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt currently ranked No. 1 among evening newscasts in adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and total viewers, while Today leads the morning newscasts in adults 18-49.

NBC’s primetime lineup is poised to win its fifth summer in a row in adults 18-49 and has only trailed any other Big 4 network all summer long during weeks when the competition benefited from an atypical sports-related ratings boost (NBA Finals on ABC and Women’s World Cup on Fox). NBC has finished No. 1 among the Big 4 during 12 weeks this summer (including ties) while no other network has led more than five times.

NBC’s summer programming highlights include:

  • America’s Got Talent, the most-watched summer unscripted series for a 10th year in a row, generating its biggest total-viewer result in four years.

  • American Ninja Warrior, which has grown +10% versus last year in 18-49 (2.2 vs. 2.0) and +22 percent versus two years ago (2.2 vs. 1.8) and is delivering its most watched season ever (averaging 7.2 million viewers, up +22 percent from last year’s 5.9 million).

  • Time-period dominance among the Big 4 networks for Last Comic Standing, Running Wild with Bear Grylls, I Can Do That and Hollywood Game Night, which are undefeated in their time periods versus regular Big 4 competition in 18-49.

  • Mr. Robinson and The Carmichael Show, the two most-watched summer-comedy launches in the past eight years (best since Creature Comforts on CBS in the summer of 2007).