NBC announced Tuesday that it has won its first November sweeps in nine years, leaping from fourth place in the ratings this time last year to No. 1 this season.
With 25 of 28 nights counted in the sweeps, NBC has averaged a 2.8 rating in the key 18-49 demographic, up 17 percent from last year. The network has gained in ratings and total viewers this season even as ABC, CBS and Fox have slipped. It has earned a boost from television's most watched show, "Sunday Night Football," as well as the returning hit "The Voice" and the new drama "Revolution" on Monday nights.
CBS was first in total viewers. The network has television's largest audience, though it has lost to Fox in the demo in recent years.
NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said in a conference call with reporters that it would be hard for his network to hold on to the top spot when "American Idol" returns to Fox and the Super Bowl airs on CBS in the winter. He tried to set modest expectations and said NBC was unlikely to end the season in the ratings lead.
"I'd be astonished if we ended up to be number one," he told TheWrap. "But I'd be thrilled if we landed at two, and I'd be really, really pleased if we were just in third place ... I feel pretty confident that we are not going to end up in fourth place again."
The network finished tied with ABC for third in the ratings last season after years in fourth place. But that was with the help of the Super Bowl, Greenblatt noted.
If NBC maintains its 2.8 rating, it would be the highest-rated November sweep since 2008.