NBC manages a season-long demographic win without the Super Bowl or Olympics, and CBS is once again first in viewers.
A year after having both the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics on its schedule, NBC fell further than any of its Big Four broadcast rivals in 2018-19. The network slipped by 27 percent in the key ad-sales demographic of adults 18-49 and by 19 percent in total viewers.
Yet despite those declines, NBC can still put the season in the win column. For the fifth time in six years, it is poised to end the season ranked first in adults 18-49 and maintains a firm hold on the No. 2 spot in viewers, where CBS is set to lead its 11th consecutive season.
With three days left in the season, NBC is at the top of the 18-49 rankings with a 1.6 rating — equivalent to about 2.07 million people in that age range. CBS and Fox are in a virtual tie for second at 1.5, with CBS drawing a smidge more viewers in the demo (1.96 million to 1.3 million for Fox); both are essentially flat even though CBS had the benefit of the Super Bowl. ABC is fourth at 1.2 (down 20 percent from 1.5 last season), and The CW brings up the rear at 0.4, off from 0.6 a year ago.
Here are some of the individual winners and losers from the broadcast season.
The Masked Singer: The season's biggest breakout hit, Fox's costumed singing competition is the No. 1 new series in adults 18-49 by a wide margin: Its 3.8 rating in the demo, including a week of delayed viewing, is a full point ahead of NBC's Manifest. It is tied with This Is Us and The Big Bang Theory for the top entertainment series overall. Fox is betting big on the show next season, with two cycles and a post-Super Bowl premiere for the second.
The Big Bang Theory: Although it declined in its 12th and final season, the CBS comedy is going out as network TV's most-watched series, averaging 17.5 million viewers. The series finale clocked in with 18.5 million viewers, growing to a massive 23.44 million after three days.
The Oscars: After four straight years of declining audiences and an all-time low in 2018, the host-less awards show bounced back some, growing by double digits in both viewers (29.56 million, +11.5 percent over 2018) and the 18-49 demographic (7.7, +13 percent).
The NFL: Despite a down Super Bowl, the safest bet on broadcast TV improved across the board in 2018-19. Every regular-season broadcast window and all three rounds of the pre-Super Bowl playoffs improved on the prior year.
The Voice and American Idol: While The Masked Singer took off, these two veteran singing competitions took it on the chin. The Voice's two weekly shows declined by double digits in adults 18-49 (16 percent on Mondays, 13 percent on Tuesdays in live-plus-7 ratings). Idol fell by 19 percent on Sundays and 25 percent on Mondays.