Friday night's lights are getting brighter for some of the broadcast networks this season, with CBS and NBC in a dead heat for adults 18-49 demo supremacy. Season-to-date, the two are averaging a 2.7 rating/9 share on the night. (CBS is averaging 10.1 million viewers to NBC's 9.1 million.) Those aren't blockbuster numbers by any means, but they are solid enough for a night that used to be a repeat dumping ground.
NBC has been able to give CBS, previously the dominant Friday player, some competition by moving two veteran dramas—Las Vegas and Law & Order—into the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. time slots, pitting them against CBS' Close to Home and Numb3rs, respectively.
Mitch Metcalf, executive vp of scheduling and program planning at NBC, said that after several years of trying new dramas on Fridays, it became evident that moving established shows would be a better course to take. "There are a smaller number of overall viewers on the night, and they are mostly older and seem to be more conservative in that they do not seem to want to sample a lot of new stuff," he said. "We're up 32 percent on the night in the 18-49 demo by moving established dramas there."
The median age audience for both networks on Fridays is about 52. CBS' youngest-skewing show is its 8 p.m. drama Ghost Whisperer with a median age of 51, the same as the Friday night NBC game show 1 vs. 100.
"There are still lots of folks home on Friday nights. And if you put on the appropriate programming geared toward them—right now it is procedural dramas—they will watch," said Steve Sternberg, executive vp of audience analysis at Magna Global. "But there are families available, too."
For example, ABC, which had little success with new drama Men in Trees on Fridays, aired family theatrical The Polar Express on Dec. 1, drawing a 4.0 18-49 rating, but also attracting a solid number of parents and kids.