NEW YORK (AP) — CBS will finish the television season as the nation's most popular television network for the eighth consecutive year, and win among the youthful demographic sought by advertisers for only the third time since modern record-keeping began in the 1980s.
CBS' victory among all viewers was its 13th in the past 14 years, the Nielsen company said. Fox won in 2007-8, when a writer's strike kept most fresh scripted series off the air while "American Idol" was at its peak.
Through Sunday, CBS' margin of victory over second-place NBC was nearly 2.8 million, the Nielsen company said. ABC was third and Fox fourth. The season actually ends Wednesday night, but the rankings almost certainly won't change. All of the networks lost viewers from last year, except for Fox, which was essentially even.
CBS also won among viewers aged 18-to-49-years-old, the advertiser-desired demo, for the third time since the 2012-13 and 1991-92 seasons. That blunts the common charge from its rivals that CBS is only dominant among older, less desirable viewers.
"NCIS" was television's most popular drama for the seventh consecutive year, and "The Big Bang Theory" the most popular comedy for the sixth straight year, Nielsen said. Both CBS shows averaged just over 20 million viewers per episode. The most-watched program for the year, on average, was NBC's Sunday night football games in the fall.
"It was a long time ago, but we remember what it felt like to be in last place," CBS Corp. Chairman Leslie Moonves said while presenting the network's fall schedule to advertisers last week.
That was many years — and many millions of dollars paid to Moonves in salary — in the past.
CBS also won the last full week of the TV season in ratings and the season finale of "NCIS" was the most-watched show, by nearly five million viewers over its closest competitor — the "NCIS" New Orleans spinoff.
CBS averaged 6.9 million viewers last week. ABC had 5.9 million and, with the help of the Billboard Music Awards, won among viewers aged 18-to-49. NBC averaged 5 million viewers, Fox had 3.2 million, Univision had 1.9 million, the CW had 1.5 million, Telemundo had 1.4 million and ION Television had 1.3 million.
Led by its coverage of the NBA's Western Conference Finals, TNT was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 3.11 million viewers in prime time. ESPN had 2.45 million, Fox News Channel had 1.92 million, USA had 1.57 million and TBS had 1.47 million.
ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.9 million viewers, its first weekly victory since early February. NBC's "Nightly News" had 7.8 million viewers and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.7 million.
For the week of May 16-22, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "NCIS," CBS, 18.02 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 13.3 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 11.64 million; "Empire," Fox, 10.88 million; "Billboard Music Awards," ABC, 9.76 million; "Survivor," CBS, 9.54 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 9.52 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 9.05 million; NBA Playoffs: Oklahoma City at Golden State, Game 1, TNT, 8.71 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 8.63 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 is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.