ABC in second place, five weeks straight

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ABCOverall: During the week of 5/14/12, ABC qualified as the 2nd-most-watched TV network to CBS for the 5th straight frame.  Among Adults 18-49, the Net finished in a close 3-way race for first place, with just 2-tenths of a rating point separating ABC, CBS and Fox. In addition, ABC defeated NBC in Adults 18-49 for the 10th straight week (+18%).  The Net finished #1 for the 4th week in a row with key Women (W18-49/W25-54).  ABC claimed 5 of the Top 20 TV shows in Adults 18-49 for the week, airing the Top 2 scripted series with Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family, respectively:  Grey’s Anatomy – #3, Modern Family – #4, Billboard Music Awards – #17, while DWTS and The Bachelorette tied at #19.  ABC’s Scandal and Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23 qualified as the Top 2 new midseason series with young adults, respectively.  The Net delivered 2 of the Top 8 most-watched programs overall, with Dancing with the Stars and DWTS Results Show.   Additionally, ABC’s season finale of Grey’s Anatomy stood as the week’s #1 TV program with Women 18-34.


Monday: With Dancing and the season opener of The Bachelorette against competition including season finales on CBS (How I Met Your Mother/Two and a Half Men/Mike & Molly/Hawaii Five-0) and a 2-hour season premiere on NBC (America’s Got Talent), ABC finished as Monday’s most-watched TV network for the 9th week running, outdrawing CBS by 1.4 million viewers, NBC by 3.0 million viewers and Fox by 5.2 million viewers. The Net also ranked #1 on Monday across all key Women (W18-34/W18-49/W25-54) and continued to dominate Fox’s drama lineup in Adults 18-49 (+24% advantage over Bones and House). Building throughout its shortened broadcast (8-9:31 pm), ABC’s Dancing with the Stars once again registered as Monday’s most-watched TV program and jumped to the top of its slot for the 9th straight week, beating NBC’s season premiere of America’s Got Talent by 5.3 million viewers. In addition, the wide-appealing ABC dance competition paced well ahead of Fox’s dramas in the slot among Adults 18-49 (+30%) and made ABC the #2 broadcaster with Kids 2-11. DWTS posted best-since premiere numbers with Adults 18-34 and Women 18-34 – since 3/19/12.  During the final half of the evening (9:31-11pm), ABC’s 8th season premiere of The Bachelorette finished #2 to CBS among Total Viewers and Adults 18-49, while ranking #1 in its time period with Adults 18-34 and across all key Women demographics (W18-34/W18-49/W25-54). From 10-11pm, ABC’s The Bachelorette defeated the finale of Hawaii Five-0 by 50% in Adults 18-34, while dominating NBC’s finale of Smash across the board: Total Viewers (+28%), Adults 18-34 (+47%), Adults 18-49 (+39%) and Adults 25-54 (+32%).  The Bachelorette built on its Dancing lead in with Adults 18-34 and among key Women (W18-34/W18-49). In fact, on all 3 Nielsen measures, The Bachelorette posted 9-week highs for ABC in the time period – since 3/12/12.  Despite premiering against stiffer competition opposite the final half-hour of America’s Got Talent and not having the advantage of opening out of the season finale of Dancing this year, ABC’s The Bachelorette scored strong retention of its year-ago premiere among key younger demos: AD18-34 (96%), W18-34 (97%), W18-49 (91%), M18-34 (90%) and M18-49 (92%).

Tuesday: Leaping over its lead-in (Cougar Town) at 9pm in viewers (+312%) and young adults (+120%) opposite CBS’ season finale of NCIS: LA, ABC’s DWTS Results Show outdrew the second hour of NBC’s 2-hour premiere of America’s Got Talent by 2.6 million viewers and the second hour of Fox’s 2-hour Glee by 7.2 million viewers.  Actress, author and the host of TV’s Extra Maria Menounos was the next celebrity eliminated from the competition this season. Spiking in its season finale against increased competition from the second hour of CBS’ 2-hour NCIS: LA finale, ABC’s Private Practice beat out NBC’s season finale of Fashion Star by 2.0 million viewers and by 13% in Adults 18-49 during the 10 o’clock hour.  In addition, the ABC drama ranked #2 in its slot with Adults 25-54 and key Women (W18-49/W25-54). In its season closer, Private Practice shot up over the prior week by 17% in Total Viewers, by 29% in Adults 18-49 and by 25% in Adults 25-54.

Wednesday: Once again scoring year-over-year growth on the night, ABC grew over the same Wednesday last year (5/18/11) in Viewers (+12%) and Adults 18-49 (+5%).  In fact season to date, ABC’s Wednesday delivery is up by 15% in viewers and by 22% in young adults over last season, scoring its strongest performance on the evening in 5 years – since the 2006-07 television season.  Leading off the night at 8pm against the start of Fox’s 2-hour Idol, ABC’s The Middle earned a solid second place, pacing well ahead of NBC’s Off their Rockers in Viewers (+25%) and Adults 18-49 (+36%). Showing strong lead-in retention at 8:30pm (95%), ABC’s season finale of Suburgatory stood as the top-rated scripted series in its half-hour, while outdelivering a second episode of NBC’s Off their Rockers by 13% in Adults 18-49.  On average during its freshman season, Suburgatory improved its half-hour for ABC by 16% in Total Viewers and by 25% in Adults 18-49.   In viewers and young adults, Suburgatory qualifies as the Net’s top comedy in the slot in 8 years – since the 2003-04 season.  Since 2003-04, there have been 8 regularly scheduled comedies to air in the time period for ABC.  The highest-rated scripted TV series for the 2nd consecutive season with Adults 18-49, ABC’s Modern Family more than doubled its lead-in at 9pm (+117%) to qualify as Wednesday’s #1 scripted program, outperforming runner-up CBS’ 2-hour season finale of Criminal Minds by 8%.  Beating Idol on the night in Adults 18-34, Modern Family ranked as Wednesday’s #1 series overall for its 4th straight original airing.  During the 9:30pm half-hour against the conclusion of Idol, Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23 has improved its time period for ABC by 8% in viewers and by 4% in young adults on average.  From 10-11pm, ABC freshman Revenge ran #2 to the second hour of CBS’ 2-hour Criminal Minds finale, while continuing to beat out NBC’s veteran Law & Order: SVU in the hour by wide margins with Total Viewers (+23%), Adults 18-49 (+18%) and Adults 25-54 (+24%).  The Disney-owned drama produced sizeable year-to-year gains in the hour, bettering original programming on the same night last year in Viewers (+103%), Adults 25-54 (+53%) and Adults 18-49 (+43%).  On average, Revenge is ABC’s most-watched series in the hour in 5 seasons – since Lost during the 2006-07 season.

Thursday: ABC earned second place to an Idol-fueled Fox on the final Thursday of the season in Adults 18-49, surging 18% week to week and hitting a 14-week high on the evening – since 2/9/12.  In addition, the Net ranked #1 with Women 18-34 on all 4 Thursdays of the 2012 May Sweep.  Building in its finale during the 8 o’clock hour, against the season’s final episode of Fox’s American Idol-Thurs, ABC’s Missing more than doubled the audience of NBC’s comedies (+124% over Community/30 Rock finale) and tied among Adults 18-49. The new ABC drama also beat out the established NBC comedies with Adults 25-54 (+21%) and Women 18-49 (+21%).  ABC’s Missing rose week to week in viewers (+2%) and young adults (+18%), earning its best numbers in 3 weeks.  More than tripling its lead-in at 9pm in Adults 18-49 (+208%), ABC’s 8th season finale of Grey’s Anatomy qualified as the highest-rated series in its hour for the 6th straight week and once again finished as Thursday’s #1 drama.  Taking full control of the 9 o’clock hour, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy outdelivered CBS’ Person of Interest by 64%, Fox’s Idol-inflated Touch by a best-ever 141% and NBC’s comedies by 215% (Community/Community season finale).  Additionally, Grey’s stood as Thursday’s #1 TV series with Adults 18-34, Women 18-49 (3rd straight week) and Women 18-34 (7th straight week).  Gaining for the 2nd consecutive week in viewers (+16%) and young adults (+17%), ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy generated its best numbers in over 4 months (19-week highs – best since 1/5/12) to produce the series’ 2nd strongest performance this season.  Grey’s was up over its year-ago season finale in Total Viewers (+15%), Adults 18-49 (+14%), Adults 25-54 (+12%) and across all key Women demos: W18-34 (+11%), W18-49 (+15%) and W25-54 (+16%).  In fact, it was the ABC drama’s 2nd straight telecast to post year-to-year gains.  During the 10 o’clock hour, ABC’s freshman season finale of Scandal ran in a near-tie with CBS’ finale of The Mentalist for first place in Adults 18-49 (tied in audience share), while beating The Mentalist in Adults 18-34 and across all key Women (W18-34/W18-49/W25-54).  Also in its time period, ABC’s Scandal continued to dominate its freshman drama competition, more than tripling the results for NBC’s Awake in Viewers (+248%), Adults 25-54 (+263%) and Adults 18-49 (+229%).  Additionally, Scandal dominated The Mentalist finale with Adults 18-34 (+21%) and finished #1 in its slot for the 7th consecutive week with Women 18-49.  Spiking in its finale over the prior week with Total Viewers (+14%), Adults 18-49 (+21%) and Adults 25-54 (+16%), ABC’s Scandal achieved new series highs.  The new drama attracted ABC’s largest audience in the time period since the beginning of January and its top Adult numbers (AD18-49/AD25-54) in 3 months – since 1/5/12 and 2/16/12, respectively.

Friday: ABC paced #1 against its network rivals on the final Friday of the season in Adults 18-49 (3rd straight week to hold the top position), beating NBC’s all-original line-up (including season finales of Who Do You Think You Are? and Grimm) by 8%. The season finale of ABC’s Shark Tank was the top-rated TV show of the evening on the major nets in Adults 18-49, tying NBC’s Grimm finale. The ABC unscripted series posted a strong first-place finish in the 8 o’clock hour among young adults, beating the finale of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? by 60%. On average, Shark Tank surged over the prior season by double-digit percentages in Total Viewers (+15%) and Adults 18-49 (+20%), marking its strongest-ever season on both Nielsen measures. Opposite the season ender of NBC’s Grimm in the 9 o’clock hour, ABC’s Primetime: What Would You Do? took second place against its rivals across all key Adult demos (AD18-34/AD18-49/AD25-54). The ABC newsmagazine grew its overall audience from the same night last year by 5%. From 10-11pm, ABC’s 20/20 defeated NBC’s Dateline by 9% in Adults 18-49, winning the newsmagazine race in the hour on all 4 Fridays of the 2012 May Sweep.  Anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and featuring reports from Vargas, Deborah Roberts, John Berman and Jay Schadler, 20/20 took viewers into the lives of people with some of medicine’s most rare conditions

Sunday: Registering its longest winning streak on the evening in 3 years (since the end of the 2008-09 season), ABC finished #1 for the 5th consecutive Sunday in Adults 18-49, overshadowing Fox’s night of season finales by 26%, NBC with the 2-hour season ender of Celebrity Apprentice by 50% and CBS with two hours of 60 Minutes and a Jesse Stone movie by 85%.  Featuring the season finale of America’s Funniest Home Videos and The 2012 Billboard Music Awards, the Net ranked #1 in all 8 half-hours of the evening in the key young adult sales demo.  The Billboard Music Awards stood as the night’s highest-rated broadcast overall with young adults.  Featuring the conclusion of its two-part season finale, ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos ranked #1 in the 7 o’clock hour for the 4th week in a row in Adults 18-49.  ABC’s 3-hour broadcast of The 2012 Billboard Music Awards ran a dominant #1 in its 8-11pm time period in Adults 18-49, leading Fox by 23%, NBC by 42% and CBS by 108%.  The wide-appealing music awards show also finished as the #1 broadcaster in the time period with Adults 25-54, across all key Women (W18-34/W18-49/W25-54), Teens 12-17 and Kids 2-11.  Head to head from 9-11pm, ABC’s Billboard Music Awards towered over NBC’s season finale of Celebrity Apprentice by 27% in Adults 18-49 and by 64% in Adults 18-34.  The Billboard Music Awards attracted its 2nd-largest audience since 2003 (since 12/10/03) and retained 96% of its Teen 12-17 delivery year to year.  In fact with Teens 12-17 and Kids 2-11, The 2012 Billboard Music Awards produced ABC’s best numbers in the time period

(source: ABC)


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.