Hot List: Broadcast TV

CBS is the year's hottest network


Sorry, Charlie. Despite Team Tiger Blood’s attempts to destroy the franchise, Two and a Half Men is far and away the No. 1 scripted series on TV. Such is the state of affairs at CBS. Not only does Men command the highest ad rates ($250,000 a pop), but the once seemingly doomed show is joined by top-rated newcomer 2 Broke Girls and TV’s highest-rated drama (NCIS). Winning, indeed. CBS doesn’t need novelty to put up big numbers. Even an exile to Sunday night and the DVR-confounding NFL overruns hasn’t broken The Good Wife, and the aging Survivor franchise regularly finishes in the top 20. Reliable earners like Criminal Minds, The Big Bang Theory, and Mike & Molly also have conspired to land CBS in the catbird seat

Late Night


David Letterman may be more AARP than LOL, but don’t tell that to the Twitterati. With a Klout score of 72, The Late Show With David Letterman has more social media heat than Jimmy Fallon on NBC—plus he’s followed by the expert lunacy of The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. Expect Dave to shine in what promises to be the most farcical election cycle in history as he puts pretenders to the White House–and his late-night throne–on the hot seat.



With a median age of 58 years (higher than even the network’s average), NCIS is one of broadcast’s oldest-skewing shows. It’s also the biggest scripted draw on the dial, averaging 19.6 million viewers season to date, and boasts a none-too-shabby Klout score of 68. Veterans like Criminal Minds are big earners in the ad and syndie markets, while new- and newishcomers (Person of Interest, NCIS: Los Angeles) are holding their own.

Prime-time Schedule


Through the first nine weeks of the season, CBS has opened up a comfortable lead in the ratings race, averaging 13 million viewers in prime time, 23 percent more than runner-up ABC. Despite delivering broadcast’s oldest audience (median age is 56), CBS is tied with Fox for first place in the crucial 18-49 demo, with a 3.4 rating. In a sense, CBS may be a victim of its own success. With little room on the schedule for anything new, the net is likely to kill off one of its workhorses. (Not a bad problem to have.)





Simon Cowell, the star-making, snark-lobbing judge and executive producer of The X Factor, is like a one-man Statler and Waldorf—just substitute the judges’ table for a balcony. The Idol impresario’s latest effort doesn’t reach the heights of his first stateside series, but X has helped give Fox its first big Q4 in memory. And Idol, of course, remains the standard against which all reality is measured. Advertisers will shell out as much as $500,000 per spot when it returns Jan. 22.



Little wonder Adweek readers gave NBC the winning nod. On Feb. 5, the Peacock net will host Super Bowl XLVI, which sets the table nicely for its stewardship of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Sunday Night Football is NBC’s sole bona fide hit. With an average draw of 19.7 million viewers and a 7.9 rating in the 18-49 demo, it’s also the biggest draw on TV.



No matter how well Mr. Kelso Goes to Malibu performs for CBS, it’s the Pritchett-Dunphy axis on ABC’s Modern Family that made Americans fall in love with the sitcom all over again. The linchpin of a Wednesday night lineup that includes new hit Suburgatory and the Friends-with-benefits Happy Endings, Modern Family earns nearly a quarter-million dollars per :30.

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