NBC Leads C3 Ratings Race as Networks Bed Down for Winter Break

Fox, the CW post big year-over-year gains

With a third of the 2013-14 TV season on the books and the networks having settled down for a long winter’s nap, NBC retains a comfortable lead over the rest of the broadcast pack.

According to Nielsen C3 ratings for the period spanning Sept. 23-Dec. 1 (the most up-to-date figures available, given the three weeks required to process the data), NBC is averaging a 3.0 in the adults 18-49 demo, putting it a few lengths ahead of Fox (2.2), CBS (2.1) and ABC (2.0). The currency against which nearly all ratings guarantees are made, C3 is a blend of average live commercial ratings and three days of time-shifted deliveries.

Boosted by Sunday Night Football, The Voice and its new hit drama series The Blacklist, NBC thus far has enjoyed remarkable consistency in a season otherwise marked by ratings eccentricities. Compared to the first 10 weeks of the 2012-13 campaign, when NBC carved out a similarly large lead over its rivals, the Peacock is flat in C3. The network is also getting the most mileage out of the metric, improving three-tenths of a ratings point from an average 2.7 live-plus-same-day delivery.

Runner-up Fox is also the season’s most improved network, growing 10 percent in the demo from its year-ago 2.0 C3 average. Upon conversion to the currency, Fox also tacked two-tenths of a ratings point onto its 10-week L+SD average.

Both CBS and ABC slipped one-tenth of a point from their respective year-ago averages. On a percentile basis, the CW laid claim to the biggest increase to date, improving 17 percent to a 0.7 rating.

While veteran series are doing much of the heavy lifting, each broadcast net can lay claim to at least one new hit. Chief among these is The Blacklist, which through its first nine episodes is averaging a 3.5 in the dollar demo—a jump of four-tenths of a point versus its L+SD average. ABC’s action series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. grew two-tenths of a point upon application of C3, averaging a 3.1 in the dollar demo, while Fox’s supernatural thriller Sleepy Hollow also gained two-tenths in the demo, notching a 3.0 rating through its first nine installments.

CBS has a pair of new comedy favorites in The Millers (flat at a 2.8) and The Crazy Ones (up a tenth to a 2.6). And while there are only three C3-rated episodes of Almost Human, in the early going the futuristic Fox procedural is a top 20 performer, averaging a 2.5 rating (up a tenth from its L+SD average).

What’s particularly interesting about the successful new series is how they stack up against their year-ago predecessors. The Blacklist is up two-tenths of a ratings point versus last fall’s Monday 10 p.m. occupant; through its first nine broadcasts, Revolution was averaging a 3.3 in the dollar demo. Other newbies have been far more transformative; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is up 35 percent from the Dancing with the Stars results show (2.3), while Sleepy Hollow has practically trebled the results of The Mob Doctor, improving on its 1.1 by 191 percent.

Other new shows aren’t putting up bigger numbers than their predecessors. The Millers is down an entire ratings point compared to Two and a Half Men (3.8), and while there’s no tidy way to assess the performance of The Crazy Ones—the year-ago occupant of CBS’ Thursday 9 p.m. slot was the first-half hour of Person of Interest—the Robin Williams comedy would appear to be off by two-tenths of a ratings point. (Then again, given how profoundly CBS is thrashing the competition with its new two-hour Thursday comedy block, it’s unlikely that anyone at Black Rock is yanking his or her hair out over these results.)

Breakouts aside, it’s been tough sledding for the Big Four’s freshman efforts. Of the 24 new shows that debuted since the season began, 15 are averaging less than a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo. Of these, eight are comedies (Welcome to the Family, Sean Saves the World, The Michael J. Fox Show, Dads, Trophy Wife, We Are Men, Back in the Game, Brooklyn Nine-Nine); six are dramas (Lucky 7, Betrayal, Ironside, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Hostages, Dracula) and one is the unscripted Friday night competition series, MasterChef Junior.

All told, only 38 broadcast series (eight new and 30 returning) are averaging better than a 2.0 in the demo. Eleven shows are delivering a 3.0 or better, with NBC’s Sunday Night Football beating out all comers in prime time with a 7.9 C3 rating. (While often overlooked, the late national NFL games on Fox and CBS are actually the biggest draws on the tube. With an average 9.0 rating in the 18-49 demo, Fox’s NFL Sunday broadcast currently is the No. 1 program in C3 overall.)

The top-rated network scripted series: CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, which is averaging a stellar 5.1 in the demo on Thursday nights. (You get what you pay for.)

As is nearly always the case, the final C3 numbers are statistically consistent with the live-same-day deliveries that are generated the day after any given airdate. Among the top 30 broadcast series, the application of C3 improves on the original L+SD data by a mere one-tenth of a ratings point (3.0 versus a 2.9).

For a comprehensive look at how the top 30 broadcast series are faring in C3 and live-plus-same-day deliveries, as well as a capsule summary of the season-to-date network ratings, please refer to the charts below:


Sunday Night Football (NBC) 7.9 7.8 +0.1
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) 5.1 5.3 -0.2
The Voice (NBC) 3.9 4.0 -0.1
Modern Family (ABC) 3.6 3.9 -0.3
Scandal (ABC) 3.6 3.1 +0.5
The Blacklist (NBC) 3.5 3.1 +0.4
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) 3.2 2.8 +0.4
How I Met Your Mother (CBS) 3.2 3.1 +0.1
NCIS (CBS) 3.1 3.1 ––
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)  3.1 2.9 +0.2
Sleepy Hollow (Fox) 3.0 2.8 +0.2
The Millers (CBS) 2.8 2.8 ––
Criminal Minds (CBS) 2.8 2.6 +0.2
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS) 2.6 2.6 ––
2 Broke Girls (CBS) 2.6 2.6 ––
Family Guy (Fox) 2.6 2.3 +0.3
The Crazy Ones (CBS) 2.6 2.5 +0.1
Almost Human (Fox 2.5 2.4 +0.1
Mike & Molly (CBS) 2.4 2.3 +0.1
Two and a Half Men (CBS) 2.4 2.3 +0.1
The Simpsons (Fox) 2.4 2.5 -0.1
Once Upon a Time (ABC 2.4 2.2 +0.2
Chicago Fire (NBC 2.4 2.3 +0.1
60 Minutes (CBS) 2.3   2.4 -0.1
New Girl (Fox) 2.3 2.0 +0.3
The Middle (ABC) 2.3 2.3 ––
Person of Interest (CBS) 2.3 2.1 +0.2
Survivor (CBS) 2.2 2.5 -0.3
Elementary (CBS) 2.2 1.8 +0.4
AVERAGE 3.0 2.9 +0.1

Prime Time C3 Averages by Network, Adults 18-49

2013-14 TV Season (09/23/13-12/01/13)

Network  C3 Rating   Year-Ago C3 Rating

NBC 3.0 3.0 (nc)
Fox 2.2 2.0 (+10%)
CBS 2.1 2.2 (-5%)
ABC 2.0 2.1 (-5%)
CW 0.7 0.6 (+17%)

Source: Nielsen NPOWER