NBC wins first November sweep in nine years


NBCFor the first time since 2003, NBC’s primetime lineup has delivered #1 ratings in adults 18-49 for the November sweep, rising from a #4 ranking in the November period one year ago to a #1 finish this year, according to live plus same day viewership data from Nielsen. The network also was the only one to grow from last year.

Averaging a 2.8 rating among adults 18-49 through Sunday’s primetime block, NBC was up 17% from the same period last year. The heavy lifting was done by Sunday Night Football and the fall edition of The Voice, but freshman shows “Revolution” and “Go On” helped as well.

On a call with reporters, NBC Entertainment Chair Bob Greenblatt admitted football was a big reason and January might bring a more level competition without two powerhouse shows on the sked:

“Starting out this strong heading into what we know is going to be a tougher winter feels like a big accomplishment. I know we’re going to drop accordingly without The Voice and Revolution, and obviously there are some big competitive things coming with American Idol and the Super Bowl.”

With 25 of 28 nights counted in the November sweep, NBC is averaging a 2.8 rating, up 17% versus NBC’s 2.4 rating at the conclusion the November 2011 sweep. In averages through Sunday, Nov. 18, NBC leads sweep runner-up CBS by 0.4 of a point or 17%, with Monday through Wednesday results yet to be factored into sweep averages. If NBC finishes the sweep with that 17% margin, it will match the biggest advantage for any network in a November sweep since NBC won by 19% in 2002 (Fox also won by 17% in 2009).

NBC is also #1 for the sweep through 25 nights in adults 25-54, adults 18-34 and all key adult-male demographics.

If NBC maintains its 2.8 rating in adults 18-49 through the conclusion of the sweep, it would be its highest-rated November sweep since 2008 (2.8). In total viewers, NBC’s current average of 7.9 million would be its highest for a November since 2007. The sweep concludes Wednesday night, November 21 and Nielsen is scheduled to have “live plus same day” official national results for the full 28-day period on Monday, November 26.

For the November sweep, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” ranked as the #1 primetime series on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in adults 18-49, averaging a 7.6 rating in “live plus same day.” “The Voice” (4.5 with its Monday edition) was the #1 unscripted series of the sweep, “Revolution” (2.8) was the #1 new drama and “Go On” (2.2) was the #1 new comedy.

“SNF” was the #1 primetime show of the sweep on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in total viewers; adults 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54; men 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54; and teens 12-17. Monday’s “Voice” was #1 on those networks in women 18-34.

November Sweep Adults 18-49, Live Plus Same Day, Adults 18-49

25 of 28 Nights vs. Completed Sweep Last Year

Net…November 2011… November 2012…Diff

NBC…2.4…2.8…Up 17%

CBS…2.8…2.4…Down 14%

ABC…2.5…2.2…Down 12%

Fox…3.1…2.3…Down 26%

November Sweep Total Viewers, Live Plus Same Day, Total Viewers

25 of 28 Nights vs. Completed Sweep Last Year

Net…November 2011… November 2012…Diff

NBC…6.857 million …7.917 million…Up 15%

CBS…11.419 million…10.281 million…Down 10%

ABC…9.275 million …7.927 million…Down 15%

Fox…8.642 million …6.522 million…Down 25%

November Sweep Total Viewers, Live Plus Same Day, Adults 25-54

25 of 28 Nights vs. Completed Sweep Last Year

Net…November 2011… November 2012…Diff

NBC…2.8…3.3…Up 18%

CBS…3.8…3.2…Down 16%

ABC…3.2…2.7…Down 16%

Fox…3.5…2.5…Down 29%

NBC is the only network among ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW to deliver a younger audience this November than last, with a median age down to 47.8 from last November’s 48.7. NBC’s audience is within 0.6 years of Fox for youngest viewership among the Big 4 networks in November.

Median Ages for November Sweep

25 of 28 Nights vs. Completed Sweep Last Year

Net…November 2011… November 2012






On both Monday and Tuesday nights, NBC moved from #4 to #1 from November 2011 to November 2012, according to data through the first three weeks of the sweep. This November versus last, NBC is up 200% on Monday night in 18-49 (to a 3.9 rating from a 1.3) and up 71% on Tuesdays (3.6 vs. 2.1).

Through November 18, NBC has won eight straight in-season Mondays in 18-49 among ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, NBC’s longest in-season Monday win streak in the 25-year history of Nielsen’s people meter sample. NBC has also won six consecutive Tuesdays in 18-49 among ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, the network’s longest in-season Tuesday winning streak in eight years (since November 16-December 21, 2004).

The month also included an NBC Wednesday win on November 7, the network’s first in-season Wednesday victory with non-sports programming since Christmas Eve 2008.

NBC’s sweep success also included the top-rated Presidential Election coverage on Tuesday, Nov. 6, as NBC News averaged 12.0 million viewers and a 4.3 rating in adults 18-49 during primetime that night.

In “live plus seven day” results for the first eight weeks of the 2012-13 season to date, NBC is up 23% in 18-49 rating (with a 3.2 vs. a year-ago 2.6) and up 18% in total viewers (8.7 million vs. 7.4 million). NBC is ahead of its year-ago season average by double-digit percentages in every key ratings category.

Season to date, NBC is also tied for #1 with CBS in adults 25-54 (3.7 rating each) and is #1 among adults 18-54 (3.3 vs. 3.2) as well as adults 18-34 and all key adult-male demos.

RBR-TVBR observation: It’s a bit of a perfect storm for NBC: NFL football is hotter than ever, with almost all demos tuning in strong. The Voice just keeps resonating with audiences and The Revolution preys on many of our modern, deepest fears—something disables electricity on the planet and all devices powered by it. People want to know how they adapt to a world without functioning technology. NBC aired heavy tune-in promotions during NFL games and guess what—the formula still works!