What’s even scarier than Roseanne running around in a bra and sweatpants? If you’re a network executive, this year’s Nielsens. Try what they might (hyped-to-the-hilt comebacks, X-Files wannabes, Tammy Faye Bakker Messner guest appearances), the Big Four continue to hemorrhage viewers: The total network audience is down 5 percent so far this fall.
Of course, at mid-season, some of these apparent dinosaurs are faring better than others. NBC has the most reason for holiday cheer: After its eighth-in-a-row sweeps victory, the Peacock is easily holding on to its first-place position, thanks largely to those unstoppable Thursday nights. The battle for second place, however, is surprisingly close. Last year’s third-ranked CBS has a slight edge (although the average viewer’s age remains distressingly high), while ABC is struggling with a slate of aging hits. And upstart Fox, though still in fourth place, did hit a ratings home run with its coverage of the World Series.
For a more detailed map of the prime-time peaks and valleys, EW has broken down the schedule night by night. Our midterm report follows.