It’s been an evolutionary year in television. Original programming on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are now competing with broadcast television, certain cable shows are performing better than network shows, and Nielsen ratings even stepped into the 21st century by beginning to account for viewership on all platforms, in addition to a show’s Twitter ratings.
NCIS continued its dominance as the number one show on television in viewers, Big Bang Theory was the top show in the 18-49 demo that matters, while Duck Dynasty was the highest rated show on cable, and The Walking Dead was the highest rated scripted show on cable. Shows like Dynasty, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story and The Walking Dead also regularly beat their network competition in their respective time slots, as well. And while NBC rose to number one among the broadcast networks, thanks to The Voice and Sunday Night Football (not to mention their new drama, The Blacklist), it’s Thursday night lineup hit new lows.
Let’s take a look at 10 ratings facts that stand out in 2013.
1. Cable’s share of the 18-49 audience now stands at 70 percent; the networks share is 30 percent.
2. The viewers of the last first runs of Thursday’s comedy line-up Parks and Recreation, Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox Show combined equaled 9.21 million viewers. The last first run of Big Bang Theory was almost double that, with 17.6 million. In fact, the COMBINED Thursday night comedy line-up on NBC gets fewer viewers than reruns of Big Bang Theory on TBS.
3. More people watch the number one new show of the year, The Blacklist, on their DVRs (6.3 million) than live-watch episodes of New Girl and The Mindy Project combined (6.15 million). Likewise, The Blacklist now has more DVR viewers than Agents of SHIELD has live viewers (6.1 million).
4. The COMBINED ratings of critically acclaimed Girls, Veep, Orphan Black, Portlandia, and Comedy Bang! Bang! (3 million combined) is less than the ratings for Dog with a Blog (3.5 million)
5. The average person spend 17.2 hours watching basic cable each week; 7.5 hours watching network television; and 9.2 hours watching pay cable, public access and other networks. That also means that the average person watches 33.6 hour of television each week, or 4.8 hours a day.
6. Mad Men and Keeping Up with the Kardashians have roughly the same number of average viewers (about 2.3 million), and while this is depressing, it’s heartening to know that Breaking Bad, which used to have lower ratings than the Kardashians, nearly tripled their ratings in its final season.
7. The most tweeted about shows of the fall: 1) Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, 3) American Horror Story: Coven, 4) Scandal and 5) Dancing with the Stars. In fact, Breaking Bad averaged more tweets during an episode than Portlandia averaged in viewers.
8. The lowest rated episode of network television in the 18-49 demo this year was Do No Harm on NBC, with 698,000 viewers, while the lowest rated show in ALL of television was Reno or Relocate on Discovery Health and Fitness, which averaged 8,000 viewers an episode.
9. Not all TV shows are necessarily getting fewer viewers than they did 20 years ago; the platforms just disperse them more. For instance, once all platforms are taken into account (DVR, On Demand, Streaming, Live TV), a recent episode of Sleepy Hollow got 18.1 million viewers. In 1995, before DVRs were popular, and when it was the top-rated show on television, E.R. averaged 21 million viewers a week.
10. In order, these were the shows with highest median income: Modern Family, Smash, Amazing Race, Fringe, The Bachelorette, The Good Wife, Happy Endings, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, 60 Minutes, Don’t Trust the B— in Apt. 23, and Suburgatory. The shows with the lowest median incomes were Oh Sit!, American Dad, Cops, Perfect Score, and The Cleveland Show.