Sunday Broadcast Ratings: Plenty of Pain to Go Around

Mar 4, 2013  •  Post A Comment

A season of dismal ratings for the broadcast networks continued Sunday with a feeble debut for an ABC drama series and a series low for an ABC series that had been doing reasonably well.

Based on Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports that Fox and CBS tied for No. 1 for the night in the key 18-49 demo with modest 1.8 average ratings for prime time.

Third-place ABC got bad news with the two-hour series premiere of “Red Widow,” which managed only a1.4 in viewers 18-49 — 36% below the 2.2 delivered by the “GCB” series premiere a year ago and 33% off from a 2.1 for “666 Park Avenue’s” series premiere back in September. ABC also saw its “Once Upon a Time” slip to a series low with a 2.1, losing 13% from its previous original episode.

Fox went to battle with a mix of originals and repeat programs, with the best results coming from a fresh episode of “The Simpsons” (2.3 average in 18-49) and a new installment of “The Cleveland Show” (1.9). Another episode of “Cleveland” came through with a 1.5, and “Bob’s Burgers” pulled in a 1.7.

CBS was paced by “The Amazing Race” with a 2.4 in the 18-49 demo, improving 26% from last week — when the show ran against the Oscars. “The Good Wife” climbed 23% from its previous original to a 1.6, while “The Mentalist” slipped 6% to a 1.5.

The best performer for fourth-place NBC was the two-hour season premiere of “Celebrity Apprentice,” but all it could muster was a 1.6 average in 18-49 — “Celebrity Apprentice’s” lowest-ever season premiere, and a decline of 38% from the 2.6 the series delivered for its season premiere a year ago.

For the night, Fox and CBS led the 18-49 demo with 1.8 averages, followed by ABC (1.6 average) and NBC (1.3). Fox fell to the bottom of the bunch in total viewers, with CBS’s 9.8 million leading the way, followed by ABC (6.9 million), NBC (4.9 million) and Fox (3.8 million).


  1. The rules of Broadcast TV are outdated. These shows cannot compete with what Showtime and HBO are offering on Sunday – like Shameless and Girls. The Following tries, but as you watch each episode, you see where the old school Broadcast censorship rules really hurt a show compared to Cable.

  2. Digital Guy is right. It would be hard to do Shameless on ABC due to all the rules that exist.
    How many shows this year got only two weeks of TV time before getting canned.

  3. The article failed to mention that many regular viewers for some of these shows were busy watching The Bible on the History Channel.

  4. Pretty sad that the writers can’t come up with interesting and entertaining programming without having to use material that is not fit to pass their own network standards of decency. If the only way they think they can compete with the cable channels is to match or surpass their use of sex, violence and vulgarity, then they are losing the fight for more viewers.

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