CBS, NBC and ABC beat last year's numbers for premiere week
NEW YORK (AP) -- No one watches live television anymore, right? Apparently, many people still do, judging by results from the first week of a new television season.
CBS, NBC and ABC all had more viewers last week than during the first week of the 2013 fall TV season, according to the Nielsen Co.'s measurement of people watching live or before midnight on the same evening. Only Fox saw its numbers slip among the four largest broadcast networks.
Five of the 20 most-watched programs were brand new, with three on CBS and two on ABC, according to Nielsen.
"Maybe the networks are putting out better shows," said Brad Adgate, a ratings analyst for Horizon Media, "or at least they're putting out a better marketing strategy."
Some of the successful new series, like "Madam Secretary" on CBS and "How to Get Away With Murder" on ABC, were the subject of big campaigns by their networks to drive early viewership.
The numbers were surprising only in the sense that networks have been arguing that live viewership no longer is the best measurement of a program's value. Some networks have driven the point home by supplementing overnight ratings reports with estimates on how many people will watch a program on a time-shifted basis.
People are time-shifting, too, of course. ABC said "How to Get Away With Murder" set a record by increasing its audience from an estimated 14.3 million to 20.3 when viewing over a three-day period is added in.
Besides the Sunday night "Madam Secretary," CBS has done well with the new series "Scorpion" and the spinoff "NCIS: New Orleans." The comedy "Black-ish" on ABC has shown strength in the time slot after "Modern Family," which has been problematic for the network.
NBC had its most-watched premiere week in eight years, according to Nielsen, with Debra Messing's "The Mysteries of Laura" its top new series.
Fox's biggest priority, "Gotham," had a strong start, but the network has to be concerned with the weak showing of its sophomore drama, "Sleepy Hollow," and the new "Red Band Society."
For the sixth year in a row, CBS won premiere week, averaging 10.9 million viewers in prime time. NBC had 10 million, and won among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic upon which it bases its advertising sales. ABC had 8.3 million and said it won among young viewers if football is taken out of the equation. Fox had 5.2 million, Univision 2.9 million, Telemundo 1.4 million, ION Television 890,000 and the CW 780,000.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.91 million viewers in prime time. USA had 1.83 million, Fox News Channel had 1.67 million, the Disney Channel had 1.64 million and TBS had 1.62 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.2 million viewers. ABC's "World News" was second with 8 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.3 million viewers.
For the week of Sept. 22-28, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: New Orleans at Dallas, NBC, 22.68 million; "The Big Bang Theory," (Monday, 8:30 p.m.), CBS, 18.24 million; "NCIS," CBS, 18.23 million; "The Big Bang Theory," (Monday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 18.03 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Game Show," NBC, 17.57 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 17.23 million; NFL Football: N.Y. Giants at Washington, CBS, 16.29 million; "How to Get Away With Murder," ABC, 14.34 million; "Scorpion," CBS, 13.83 million; NFL Football: Chicago at N.Y. Jets, ESPN, 13.27 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.