NBC has clinched first place for the traditional September to May season in primetime's key demographic of adults 18-49, marking the network's fourth win in five years.
The network is generating a plus-47 percent margin of victory with a 2.2 rating vs. a 1.5, the biggest advantage at the close of the September to May season for any network in the 31-year history of Nielsen's current people-meter sample.
The network is also running within 106,000 viewers of first place in total viewers, the network's most competitive finish among overall viewers in 16 years.
With three nights left to count in the traditional season, NBC is averaging a 2.2 rating in adults 18-49, versus a 1.5 for CBS, a 1.5 for ABC and a 1.5 for FOX, according to "most current" averages from Nielsen Media Research through 34 completed weeks of the season. The traditional season ends this Wednesday, May 23.
NBC's primary focus remains the full 52-week season that ends in September, with NBC well-positioned to win that full season this year for a fifth year in a row in adults 18-49 and in total viewers for the first time since 2001-02.
"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, chairman 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. 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. I am inordinately proud of the programming, marketing and scheduling teams at NBC and everyone who worked so hard to deliver a provocative, high-quality, and winning lineup that includes some of the best scripted and unscripted series on television."
For the conventional September to May season, NBC not only wins in adults 18-49 counting all programs, it also ranks No. 1 counting entertainment programming only, as well as scripted programs only and alternative programs only (tie).
Pacing NBC's top-ranking regular lineup this season were television's No. 1 drama in 18-49 and total viewers, "This Is Us"; the No. 1 primetime series on broadcast television in 18-49, "Sunday Night Football"; the No. 1 alternative series in 18-49 and total viewers, Monday's "The Voice"; timeslot wins generated by each of the network's "Chicago" dramas; Friday's No. 1 newsmagazine, "Dateline NBC"; and the top-scoring new in-season alternative series of the past two seasons, "Ellen's Game of Games."
That regular-schedule strength was teamed this season with NBC Sports' coverage of the Super Bowl, which will rank as the most-watched program of 2018, and the PyeongChang Olympics, which scored as the most dominant Winter Games on record.
In total viewers, NBC will finish the conventional September to May season ranking No. 2 and in its most competitive position in 16 years, with these "most current" total-viewer averages with three days left to count in the season: CBS, 8.979 million; NBC, 8.873 million; ABC, 6.072 million; FOX, 4.917 million; and The CW, 1.724 million. NBC is currently running within 106,000 persons of No. 1, the closest the network has been to first place at this point in the season since it ranked No. 1 in the 2001-02 season.
Even excluding all sports, NBC is running closer to CBS at this point in the season in total viewers than it's been in 14 years, since 2003-04 (currently within 1.656 million total viewers of CBS excluding sports, best since the gap was 1.635 million in 2003-04).
Among all programs, NBC has won the season not only in adults 18-49, but also ranks No. 1 among the "Big 4" networks in every other key demographic - adults, men and women 25-54; men and women 18-49; and adults, men and women 18-34. It's the first time in 10 years a network has won the season in every key demographic, a feat that was last accomplished by FOX in the 2007-08 season.
In late-night, NBC leads the season in the daypart's key demographic of adults 18-49 with "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and "Late Night with Seth Meyers," both of which have won their timeslots versus the broadcast competition every week this season when in originals.
Leading late-night overall is "Saturday Night Live," which has averaged 9.4 million viewers overall (L+7 originals only). That makes this 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, trailing over that span only last year's election-fueled average of 11.0 million viewers
2017-18 Primetime Averages thru 34 Weeks, "Most Current"
Adult 18-49 Rating
- NBC ... 2.2
- CBS ... 1.5
- ABC ... 1.5
- FOX ... 1.5
- CW ... 0.6
- CBS ... 9.0 million
- NBC ... 8.9 million
- ABC ... 6.1 million
- FOX ... 4.9 million
- CW ... 1.7 million