A summer’s worth of TV didn’t do a whole lot to change the ratings picture among the broadcast networks.
With the 52-week season that was 2021-22 entirely in the books as of Sept. 18, CBS remains the most watched network, and NBC held onto its lead among adults 18-49. That’s where the two were at the end of the traditional, September-to-May season as well.
ABC nudged ahead of Fox in the total-viewer race over the longer period, but the latter remained second in the 18-49 demographic that advertisers covet. Adding the summer term, with its lower overall TV usage and relative lack of big sports events to juice audiences, meant that everyone’s numbers came down some compared to the fall-to-spring averages.
NBC averaged a 0.9 rating in the 18-49 demo (down from 1.2 at the end of May), claiming its second straight 52-week crown and eighth in the past nine years. The network had both the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics as major drivers of that win, along with the final season of This Is Us (the top-rated entertainment series), its other NFL games and the continually solid performance of its Dick Wolf-produced Chicago dramas.
Fox averaged a 0.8 (down from 1.1) to hold onto second place. ABC (even vs. May) and CBS (down 0.1) tied for third at 0.7.
“NBC remains best in class in broadcast as well as being a vital pillar of our diversified portfolio,” said Frances Berwick, chairman entertainment networks at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, of the demo victory. “As we begin our new season and look toward the future, NBC continues to lead the pack across programming genres in the ever-expanding television landscape.”
CBS averaged 5.31 million viewers over the 52-week timeframe, beating out NBC (5.19 million) by about the same margin as in the shorter season (6.35 million to 6.25 million). CBS series claimed seven of the top 10 non-sports shows during the season — with NCIS‘ 10.9 million viewers over seven days leading the way — and got solid tune-in from Big Brother over the summer.
ABC had a somewhat better summer than Fox in total viewers — aided by the NBA Finals and a couple of big college football and NFL telecasts in early September — to finish third with 3.93 million viewers, while Fox averaged 3.71 million. In May, Fox was third at 4.68 million viewers and ABC fourth at 4.19 million.