NBC’s downward slide is getting steeper.
Long a ratings laggard, the network has fallen further behind its competitors this fall, heightening the challenge facing its new owner Comcast Corp. as it works to mount a turnaround.
Through the first four weeks of the TV season ending Oct. 16, about 3.3 million adults under 50 years old have been watching prime-time TV shows on NBC, according to the latest figures from Nielsen Holdings NV. That is down 9.3% from the same period a year earlier. Much of the decline is concentrated in NBC’s entertainment shows.
Leaving out National Football League games, which NBC airs on Sunday nights, the network’s 18-to-49-year-old audience is 2.2 million–down 16% from a year earlier. That demographic is the audience group most valued by advertisers.
Among the shows demonstrating particularly severe declines are long-running programs like “Law & Order: SVU” and “The Biggest Loser,” each of which lost one of its stars. The 18-to-49-year-old audiences for those shows have fallen 20% to 3.4 million and 23% to 3 million, respectively, this season compared to last season, according to Nielsen.
Competitors are faring better. Through four weeks, Walt Disney Co.’s ABC is down 5.8% among viewers 18-to-49 in prime-time, CBS Corp.’s eponymous network is down 2.3% and News Corp.‘s Fox Broadcasting is up 11%, according to the latest Nielsen data. (News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.)
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