NBC Victorious in US Ratings Battle

23 May 2002

America’s 2001/2002 TV season drew to a close on Wednesday, with NBC dominating Nielsen’s ratings figures for the big four networks.

The General Electric-owned broadcaster topped the charts for average overall prime-time audience (up 17% year-on-year to 13.5 million) and for the much-coveted 18–49 demographic (up 13% to 6.7m).

NBC’s success came largely at the expense of Disney’s ABC, where average total viewers tumbled 22% to 9.69m, dragging it from first place last year to third. There was similar woe in the 18–49 group, where the network’s audience slumped 17% to 4.5m, putting it bottom of the big four.

Viacom’s CBS, meanwhile, posted a 2% decline in overall viewers to 12.3m, putting it in second place, and a marginal dip in the 18–49 category to 4.96m.

NewsCorp-owned Fox came last of the four major networks in terms of overall audience, averaging 4% less than last year with 9.2m. However, its viewers tend to be in the younger categories favoured by advertisers: the network was second in the 18–49 demographic on 5.1m viewers (albeit a decline of 7.8%) and top among 12 to 17-year-olds.

The networks are currently engaged in the upfront period of ad sales for the new season.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff