CBS is marking its 15th consecutive season as the most watched broadcast network, and Fox claimed the 2022-23 season among adults 18-49. Each of the seven top broadcasters, however, lost some on-air audience amid the ongoing shift from linear to streaming viewing.
CBS finished the September-to-May season, which officially wrapped Wednesday night, with a primetime average of 5.96 million viewers. NBC finished second, about 700,000 viewers off the lead, with 5.27 million, followed by Fox (4.45 million) and ABC (4.14 million). Univision came in at 1.28 million viewers, Telemundo at 937,000, and The CW at 548,000.
Fox led the key ad-sales demographic of adults 18-49 with a 1.0 rating — equal to about 1.3 million people in that age range — thanks in no small part to having the Super Bowl in February. NBC, last season’s leader in the demo, finished second with a 0.9. CBS (0.7) edged out ABC (0.6) for third place. Univision (0.4), Telemundo (0.3) and The CW (0.1) followed.
According to Nielsen, overall TV usage in primetime was down by about 9 percent compared to the 2021-22 season. Three networks — ABC, CBS and Fox — came in under that: Fox recorded the smallest decline, 1 percent, while ABC dipped by just 2 percent and CBS was off by about 5 percent. Telemundo fell by 6 percent vs. last season, while NBC (-13 percent), Univision (-14 percent) and The CW (-17 percent) all dropped by double digits.
NBC also had the biggest loss among adults 18-49, falling three tenths of a point season to season. That’s not a huge surprise, however, as the network had both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics to boost its ratings in 2021-22. ABC, CBS, Fox and Univision all lost a tenth of a point from last season, and Telemundo and The CW were flat.
NBC’s Sunday Night Football is once again the most watched (18.09 million viewers) and highest rated (4.83 rating among adults 18-49) show on broadcast TV (not including streaming). NCIS (9.87 million viewers over seven days, pending figures for its final two episodes) has the biggest total audience for non-sports programs on the network, and Survivor (1.05 rating) leads everything but the NFL in adults 18-49.