It may not qualify as a revolution, but after years of relentless bad news in the ratings, NBC has opened the new television season with some positive signs.
The network has been in fourth place in the ratings for eight straight years. Through the first two weeks of the new TV season, it is the only one of the top four broadcast networks to see its viewership increase compared with last year, according to Nielsen, the company that measures television audience.
Sunday night football leads the way, as is often the case for NBC. "The Voice" was the most-watched reality show last week, beating veterans like "Dancing With the Stars," ''Survivor" and "The Amazing Race." The thriller "Revolution," heavily promoted during the Olympics, has opened the season as NBC's top scripted show.
While third in the ratings race last week, NBC won among viewers ages 18-to-49, the demographic where it concentrates its business.
"They're off to an encouraging start," said Brad Adgate, a television analyst for Horizon Media.
They're nowhere near hits, but new NBC comedies like "Go On" and "Guys With Kids" already reach a larger audience than critically-praised cult favorites "The Office" and "30 Rock." New management at NBC views some of those older comedies as niche players, and wants shows that will appeal to more people.
Once the crown jewel of the network's comedy lineup, the Emmy-winning "30 Rock" opened its final season with less than 3.5 million viewers. Only Brian Williams' "Rock Center" newsmagazine and the comedy "Up All Night" had smaller audiences for NBC.
NBC said it was delaying the scheduled Oct. 19th season debuts of the comedies "Whitney" and "Community." The network said it wants to concentrate its promotion on other shows and see more about how the season shakes out before rescheduling them, and that the delay is not a sign that it is losing faith in the comedies.
CBS was the most-watched network last week, with "NCIS" beating pro football as the most popular program.
CBS averaged 10.4 million viewers for the week in prime time (6.6 rating, 11 share). ABC was second with 7.7 million (5.0, 8), NBC had 7.5 million (4.7, 8), Fox had 5.3 million (3.2, 5), the CW and ION Television both had 1 million (both 0.7, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with an average of 3.5 million viewers (1.9, 3), Telemundo had 1.1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura had 580,000 (0.2, 1), Estrella had 150,000 and Azteca had 80,000 (both 0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.7 million viewers (5.3, 10). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.3 million (5.0, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.7 million viewers (4.0, 8).
A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of Oct. 1-7, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "NCIS," CBS, 18.87 million; NFL Football: San Diego vs. New Orleans, NBC, 18.31 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 15.96 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 15.18 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 14.91 million; "Person of Interest," CBS, 14.58 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 13.75 million; "The Voice," NBC, 12.55 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 12.38 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 12.33 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 and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.