Bazinga: CBS has overthrown Fox to win the 2012-13 broadcast season among the coveted adults 18-49 demographic. With only two nights left in the season, CBS claimed victory Tuesday given its insurmountable lead. The win snaps Fox’s unprecedented eight-year winning streak.
Among total viewers, CBS has led the broadcast field for years, ranking No. 1 during 10 of the past 11 seasons. But this is the first time CBS has won in the 18-49 demo in 21 years. CBS would even win the season if you excluded the network’s high-flying Super Bowl coverage. The network claims nine of the top 15 scripted prime-time programs, including Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Person of Interest.
During a press breakfast for reporters last week, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves relished the current standings. Yet CBS only deserves partial credit for its ranking. The network maintained roughly the same ratings as last year — which is certainly no easy task in an era of increasing DVR use, streaming and competition from cable networks. But it was Fox declining 22 percent due to softening American Idol popularity and other factors that gave CBS the trophy.
Fox hopes to surge back next season with its new schedule, including the promising J.J. Abrams-produced action-drama Almost Human, and the use of short-order limited series, including a rebooted 24. The Idol judges panel will be firmed-up over the next couple months, and last night Fox announced an experienced new judges panel for The X Factor.
The rest: NBC slipped slightly this season. But if you were to remove the Super Bowl from its average last year, NBC would have actually been up thanks to The Voice boosting its fall (and despite a rather spectacular midseason ratings crash). ABC also fell, and this fall rolls out a whooping eight new shows. Here’s how ratings stack up this season with only a couple days left on the clock:
SEASON-TO-DATE RATINGS (09/24/12-5/19/13)
CBS 2.9 -3%
FOX 2.5 -22%
NBC 2.4 -4%
ABC 2.2 -8%
CBS 11,849 +1%
ABC 7,849 -6%
FOX 7,059 -20%
NBC 6,964 -6%