Nothing matters more to the networks than ratings. It all comes down to ratings, the true test of worth for any network, and nowadays with the rise of alternative entertainment options emerging it is more important than ever that the traditional networks rate high. Unfortunately the 2011-2012 television season won't be one any of the major networks will want to remember. None of the major networks (CBS, NBC,Fox, ABC, and CW) could even maintain their viewership from last year. Having a year to year drop in the single digit percentile was a win for the networks this past year. So how did it all turn out?
CBS was the real winner in this pack of losers this year. They won out for the most viewers, actually up 1% from last year, and won some bragging rights by winning the 18-49 demographic away from Fox. Don't worry though, you can still make fun of CBS for being the channel for geriatrics since their median age of viewer not only was the highest, again, among the other networks but it also went up. Rising from 55.6 to 56.2, making it closer to social security early retirement.
While CBS may have won the big categories but it isn't all doom and gloom for the others. Fox won the often lusted after 18-34 demographic but did have an overall 19% drop in their ratings. Some of which can be attributed to the failure of American Idol to retain these viewers. They also saw a 22% drop in overall viewership but retained the overall second spot.
The real news is in the drops. Only CW and CBS saw an increase of any kind in viewers and all networks saw a rise in the median age of viewer. You could blame the loss of viewers to streaming alternatives but some of the blame has to be placed at the feet of the networks themselves. None of the networks have really embraced the internet and continue to try the same old tricks in hopes that they'll work. Even new shows with some promise are canned in hopes of replacing it with something that could be a ratings success. How can any network hope to do well when they have to reintroduce a show to viewers every year?