Last updated: February 25, 2013 - 10:25pm
There is really just one word to describe the Big Four’s collective ratings this winter: bad.
After a so-so fall, new shows are putting up historically low numbers at midseason. Veteran shows are sliding to series lows. And the networks produced one of their worst collective showings in February sweeps history last week, the week ended Feb. 17, with only one network drawing better than a 2.0 rating among adults 18-49. That was Fox, which earned its first weekly win of the sweeps with a 2.1 adults 18-49 rating and 6 share. CBS was second with a 1.9/5, followed by ABC in third with a 1.8/5, Univision fourth with a 1.5/4 and NBC fifth with a 1.3/4. The Big Four networks averaged a 7.1 rating all together for the week. By comparison, last year those four combined for a 9.3 during the same week. These struggles may be more a reflection on the medium itself than anything the networks are doing. DVR viewership continues to climb, meaning that the live-plus-same-day-DVR-playback ratings that the weekly ratings performances are based on are dropping. Cable has put up a stiff challenge to broadcast this winter, with AMC’s “The Walking Dead” drawing stronger numbers among adults 18-49 than any Big Four show. And the era of must-see events on broadcast is largely over. Though a handful of specials such as the Super Bowl, the Grammys and the Oscars are capable of drawing huge audiences, only a few shows can muster more than 20 million viewers a week anymore. There are just too many other media choices vying for viewers’ attention, which means the low ratings aren’t just some one-week or one-month fluke.
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