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Crisis for Broadcast Nets? Veteran Shows Struggling to Hold Viewers LA Times

Much of the coverage of the current television season has focused on the lack of new hit shows on the broadcast networks, but TV writer Joe Flint reports in the Los Angeles Times that veteran series are also struggling.

“So far this season, only a handful of returning programs are doing better than they were last season. CBS's ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ NBC's ‘Grimm’ and ABC's ‘Shark Tank’ are members of that club,” Flint writes. “At CBS, shows that have declined from last season in viewers and the 18-49 demographic include ‘Two Broke Girls,’ ‘The Mentalist’ and ‘Hawaii Five-0.’ NBC's ‘Law & Order: SVU’ and ‘Parks & Recreation’ are down as well. At ABC, ‘Once Upon a Time’ has seen double-digit declines, as has Fox's ‘New Girl.’"

Flint notes that the latest airings of CBS’s “The Good Wife” and CW’s “Beverly Hills 90210” produced all-time lows in the ratings for both series.

Admittedly, the numbers don’t take into account the growing acceptance of nonlinear viewing platforms -- DVR, Internet and VOD. “But odds are that even with ancillary viewing factored in, the ratings would still be lower,” Flint writes. “This has to be of concern to the broadcast networks, especially if new shows are not emerging to pick up the slack.”

Only one network -- NBC -- is up this season in both total viewers and adults 18-49, Flint notes. “However, that was primarily in the fall when ‘The Voice’ was on,” he writes. “CBS, which is first in both categories, is down 4% in viewers and 13% in adults 18-49. ABC is off 7% in viewers and 8% in 18-49, while Fox has fallen 18% in both categories. The CW is up 3% in viewers but down 13% in the 18-49 category.”

New programs, meanwhile, aren’t doing much to help turn things around. “Indeed, while a few shows such as CBS's ‘Elementary’ and Fox's ‘The Following’ are posting some decent numbers, there have been far more flops in the fall and midseason,” Flint writes. “Recent casualties include NBC's ‘Do No Harm’ and CBS's ‘The Job.’ Among other disappointments from earlier this season are Fox's ‘Ben and Kate’ and ABC's ‘Last Resort.’"