Rio Gold: NBC Passes CBS for Top Spot in 52-Week TV Ratings

Sorry Super Bowl, the Summer Olympics own 17 nights

Last Updated: August 16, 2016 @ 12:13 PM

We knew it would happen, and now it has: NBC has pole-vaulted above CBS to become the top-rated broadcaster for the (still ongoing) 52-week TV season.

The broadcaster is now three-tenths of a Nielsen TV ratings point ahead of its closest competition in the advertiser-sought 18-49 demographic — thanks, Rio Olympics! In other words, Super Bowl 50 was good while it lasted.

NBC is expected to continue its lead for the duration of the September 2015-Sept. 2016 run, and claim a third consecutive 12-month-long season victory in the main demo.


Also Read: Ratings: NBC Stumbles Out of Block Despite Usain Bolt Gold

Heading into the Olympics, NBC and CBS were tied for No. 1, both with a 2.0 primetime average rating. Now, NBC holds a 2.3, per Nielsen’s “most current” ratings — which include one week’s worth of delayed viewing where available — while CBS has slipped to a 1.9.

NBC had some pre-Rio catching up to do, as CBS won the traditional fall TV season — from Sept.-May — in both the main demo and among total viewers. Fortunately for one of those nets (and unfortunately for the other), shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “American Ninja Warrior” helped NBC get up to speed even before the Olympics opening ceremony.

“Big Brother,” you’re just not big enough.


Also Read: 12 Biggest Rio Olympics Fails, From Shootings and Thefts to Green Swimming Pools (Photos)

NBC executives have publicly claimed in the past that they only care about the 52-week TV season — which makes sense, because the Comcast channel usually takes it, thanks to a strong summer slate and Olympics rights. While the warmest months aren’t exclusively for reruns anymore elsewhere, other networks still seem to focus more on the traditional Sept.-May version, which also happens to be more winnable for them. Smart.

There’s some silver (medal) lining for CBS here: The Les Moonves-led network is still ahead among total viewers, and should hold that podium through the duration of the 52-week TV season.

Lower-rated Fox has the Super Bowl this coming year; with no Olympics, it will be every CEO for him or herself.

Olympics 2016: Team USA Gold Medal Tracker (Videos)
Team USA is once again expected to contend for the top spot in the medal count at this year's Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. Here are the athletes that have claimed the gold medal so far.
Virginia Thrasher, Women's 10m Air Rifle -- The 19-year-old engineering major at West Virginia University dreamed of being a figure skater, but found her path to Olympic gold through a rifle instead. She surprised everyone by beating out Chinese shooters Du Li and Yi Siling, who have won the gold in this event in past Olympics.
Katie Ledecky, Women's 400m Freestyle -- Ledecky's quest to go four-for-four in her swimming events got off to a flying start on Sunday, when she smashed her own world record time and beat the rest of the field by five seconds.
Caeleb Dressel, Michael Phelps, Ryan Held and Nathan Adrian, Men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay -- For all his success, Michael Phelps regretted coming second in the freestyle relay to France at the London Olympics in 2012. This time was different, as Phelps used his powerful kick to give Team USA a lead that they would never give up.
Ryan Murphy, Men's 100m Backstroke -- With Murphy's record-setting victory at 51.97 seconds, Team USA has won the gold in this event in six consecutive Olympics. Murphy was joined on the podium by teammate David Plummer, who took bronze.
Lilly King, Women's 100m Breaststroke -- King made headlines when she called out Russian rival Yulia Efimova, who was initially among those banned from competing during the Russian doping scandal but was later cleared to compete by the International Olympic Committee. King backed up her words by setting a new Olympic record in the event with a time of 1:04.93. Efimova took silver and American Katie Meili took bronze.
Katie Ledecky, Women's 200m Freestyle -- Swedish sprint swimmer Sarah Sjostrom was neck and neck with Ledecky through the entire race, but Ledecky managed to stave her off and win gold #2 by 0.35 seconds.
Michael Phelps, Men's 200m Butterfly -- Much was made by the media about the rivalry between Phelps and South Africa's Chad Le Clos, who beat Phelps in London. But the biggest threat was Japan's Masato Sakai, whom Phelps edged out by just four hundredths of a second to win his 20th Olympic gold.
Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas, Ryan Lochte, and Michael Phelps, Men's 4x200 Freestyle Relay -- Team USA has now won the gold in this event in the last four Olympics, with Lochte and Phelps as members of every winning team.
Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian; Women's Team Gymnastics -- In London, there was the Fierce Five. In Rio, there was the Final Five, named in honor of being the last team coached by legendary gymnastics guru Marta Karolyi. Indeed, the U.S. women gave their coach a sendoff for the ages, winning the gold by a whopping 8.2 points.
Kristin Armstrong -- Women's Cycling Time Trial -- Though the roads of Rio were slick with rainwater, Armstrong prevailed in the "Race of Truth" to become the oldest American woman to win an individual gold medal with a victory a day prior to her 43rd birthday.
Allison Schmidt, Leah Smith, Maya DiRado, and Katie Ledecky; Women's 4x200 Freestyle Relay -- Team USA was just under a second out of the lead when Ledecky entered the pool as the team's anchor, but once she was in, Ledecky pulled out to a firm lead to win USA Swimming's eighth gold of these Olympics.
Simone Biles, Women's All-Around -- The three-time world champion was just a bit too young to compete in London, but in Rio she lived up to the hype, scoring at least 15 points in all four rounds. Teammate Aly Raisman took silver.
Kayla Harrison, Women's 78kg Judo -- In London, Harrison became the first American to win judo gold. In Rio, she dominated the competition with decisive victories in each round including a submission via armlock in the final. She now plans to make the jump from judo to MMA.
Simone Manuel, Women's 100m Freestyle -- In a rare finish, Manuel set an Olympic record in a dead heat with Canada's Penny Oleksiak. In doing so, she became the first African-American woman to claim individual gold in Olympic swimming.
Ryan Murphy, Men's 200m Backstroke -- Murphy kept Team USA's backstroke dominance alive with his victory. Americans have now won gold in the 200 back in the last six Olympics.
Michael Phelps, Men's 200m IM -- According to accounts from ancient Greek historians, Leonidas of Rhodes won 12 individual events at the Olympics in a career that dates back to 152 B.C.E. No modern Olympian had ever beaten that record until now, as Michael Phelps picked up his 13th individual gold medal.
Michelle Carter, Women's Shot Put -- Carter is the first American women to win the shot put at the Olympics, taking first on her final throw with a distance of 20.63 meters. Her job by day? A makeup artist.
Anthony Ervin, Men's 50m Freestyle -- 16 years after winning this event in Sydney at age 19, Irvin returned to the podium with a time of 21.4 seconds. He's now the oldest swimmer to win individual Olympic gold, taking the record from Michael Phelps, who set the record just three days prior. Nathan Adrian won bronze.
Katie Ledecky, Women's 800m Freestyle -- She smashed the world record by two seconds and beat the rest of the field by another ten more. Ledecky's final tally at Rio comes out to four golds, one silver, and two new world records.
Maya DiRado, Women's 200m Backstroke -- The Stanford grad had won individual silver and bronze, but finally won gold with a furious comeback in the 200 back. In a race to the wall, DiRado beat out Hungary's Katinka Hosszu, who had won three gold medals going into the race.
Women's Eight Rowing -- USA's team of eight rowers has now won every major international competition in the past 11 years, including three straight Olympic golds. How did they celebrate? By throwing coxswain Katelin Snyder into Rio's polluted waters.
Jeff Henderson, Men's Long Jump -- Before Rio, Team USA had won 22 golds in the men's long jump, but had not won the event in Beijing or London. Henderson ended that drought with a jump of 8.38m, one centimeter above South Africa's Luvo Manyonga.
Cody Miller, Ryan Murphy, Michael Phelps, and Nathan Adrian; Men's Medley Relay -- Phelps ends his Olympic career with 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold. If he were a one-man nation, Phelps would rank third among all countries in all-time swimming golds behind only Australia and the rest of the U.S. swimmers.
Cody Miller, Ryan Murphy, Michael Phelps, and Nathan Adrian; Men's Medley Relay -- Phelps ends his Olympic career with 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold. If he were a one-man nation, Phelps would rank third among all countries in all-time swimming golds behind only Australia and the rest of the U.S. swimmers.
Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Dana Vollmer, and Simone Manuel; Women's Medley Relay -- On the final day of swimming, the women's relay team captured USA's 1,000th Summer Olympics gold medal.
Simone Biles, Women's Vault -- Biles won her third gold in Rio by becoming the first American woman to claim gold in the vault, scoring 16 points on her second attempt.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock, Mixed Doubles Tennis -- In an all-American final, Mattek-Sands and Sock beat Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram after their match went to a third set tiebreaker. Sock leaves Rio with two Olympic medals, having also won bronze with Steve Johnson in men's doubles.

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