Granted, it's the summer rerun season. But the performance of NBC's comedies on Thursday _ the night once proclaimed must-see TV _ illustrates the hard climb back to prominence the network faces.
"Community" and "30 Rock" were each seen by 1.7 million people last week, the Nielsen Co. said. "Parks and Recreation" had 1.5 million viewers and "The Office" had 2.1 million.
Each of these shows is critically praised and will be back with the new season, although "30 Rock" will be delayed until the winter because of star Tina Fey's pregnancy and "The Office" will lose headliner Steve Carell.
What else did people watch besides NBC that night? The novela "Teresa" on Univision had 4.1 million viewers, Nielsen said. MTV's "Jersey Shore" had 7.3 million. The "Big Brother" house on CBS drew 7.1 million voyeurs. More than 5 million people watched Republican presidential candidates square off on Fox News Channel. "Burn Notice" had 4.7 million viewers on USA. Just over 5 million people watched contestants plunge into pools on ABC's "Wipeout." An exhibition football game on ESPN was seen by 4.4 million.
It follows a trend hurting reruns on broadcast networks, particularly with fresh material plentiful elsewhere. NBC also points out that its Thursday comedies have a younger, wealthier and more male audience than many other shows, and advertisers actively seek these viewers.
"It has to do with the quality of the audience and not the quantity," said Brad Adgate, an analyst for Horizon Media.
Still, he said, "how low can you go?"
Back in 1998-99, NBC ran the comedy "Veronica's Closet" on Thursday night and moved it to Mondays because executives were dissatisfied with the ratings _ and it averaged 19.3 million viewers.
While it's hard to draw too many conclusions from rerun season, generally if a show's repeats are down in the ratings it doesn't bode well for when fresh episodes come back in the fall, said media analyst Steve Sternberg. A year ago during the same week, the NBC comedies reached nearly 3 million viewers.
NBC did have last week's most popular program in "America's Got Talent." CBS, where the reruns generally perform better than on other networks, easily won the week.
CBS averaged 6.3 million viewers in prime time (4.1 rating, 7 share). ABC averaged 4.71 million viewers (2.9, 5), Fox had 4.68 million (2.8, 5) and NBC had 4.61 million (2.9, 5). ION Television averaged 1.1 million (0.7, 1) and the CW had 770,000 (0.5, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.4 million average (1.8, 3), Telemundo had 970,000 (0.6, 1), TeleFutura had 370,000 (0.2, 0), Azteca had 210,000 and Estrella 200,000 (both 0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.7 million viewers (5.1, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.3 million (4.9, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.3 million viewers (3.6, 7).
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 Aug. 8-14, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 11.46 million; "NCIS," CBS, 10.34 million; "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday), NBC, 9.73 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 8.55 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 8.23 million; "Big Brother 13" (Sunday), CBS, 7.6 million; "Big Brother 13" (Wednesday), CBS, 7.39 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 7.36 million; "Big Brother 13" (Thursday), CBS, 7.12 million; "CMA Music Festival," ABC, 7.03 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.