NBC Leads Premiere Week in Total Viewers and Demo While ‘The Simpsons’ is Top Non-Sports Program For Adults 18-49

Fall TV returned last week, and just like last year, NBC was the broadcast network on top in primetime, among both total viewers and the key adults 18-49 demographic.

During the week of Sept. 19-25 (the first week of the 2022-2023 TV season, according to Nielsen), when many of the most prominent network TV programs debuted new seasons, NBC averaged a 1.1 rating among the 18-49 demographic. While that’s a 13% drop from the 1.3 rating the network received during the same week last year, it’s still this year’s highest performance. ABC was next with a 1.0 rating compared to last year’s 0.6 — an impressive 67% jump — with Fox landing a 0.9, bumped up from last year’s 0.8. CBS trailed behind with a 0.4 rating, down 33% from 2021, while the CW came in last place, remaining consistent with a 0.1.

In total viewers, NBC averaged 6 million viewers during last week’s primetime viewing, followed by ABC’s 4.5 million, an almost 50% increase from its 3 million viewers last year. Fox jumped by 15%, bringing in nearly 4 million viewers on average. CBS posted 3.9 million viewers, 13% less than last year. The CW brought in 330,000 average viewers, 15% less than last year.

Unsurprisingly, NBC’s top program was Sunday Night Football, which brought in 17.8 million viewers and a 5.04 rating in 18-49. The network’s winning slate also includes NFL pre-show “Football Night in America,” “The Voice,” and Dick Wolf’s “One Chicago” and “Law & Order” franchises, which were both the most-viewed programs of their respective premiere nights last week.

ABC and Fox’s success during premiere week also came largely thanks to fall football.

While Monday Night Football typically airs on ESPN alone, this year, the first three weeks were simulcast on ABC during primetime. 12.9 million viewers tuned in on Sept. 19, and the 18-49 rating was 3.81. But starting Oct. 3, ABC’s Monday primetime hours will feature “Bachelor in Paradise” and “The Good Doctor” Season 6 instead of football, meaning the network is likely to see a drop in viewership.

Fox isn’t new to football, but last week’s game ran later than usual, pushing both the game and post-game show “The OT” into primetime viewing. Fox NFL Sunday drew in both the highest key rating and the most total viewers of the week, a 7.02 and a whopping 26.4 million viewers total. Many of those viewers kept their TV, as “The OT” led straight into “The Simpsons,” which became the highest-rated non-sports program of the week with a 1.41 and 4.1 million total viewers. Sunday marked the series’ Season 34 premiere, “Habeas Tortoise.”

And while CBS’ numbers showed some drops, that isn’t necessarily a projection of how the rest of the network’s season will go. The network has yet to premiere any of its Thursday night lineup, which includes new seasons of the highly-viewed “Young Sheldon,” “Ghosts” and “CSI: Vegas” in addition to the new drama series “So Help Me Todd.” CBS also had last week’s second-most-viewed non-sports program, which was “60 Minutes” with 7.1 million, though its 18-49 rating was a 0.57.

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