And just like that, NBC is back on top.
It's been 16 years since the last time the broadcast network could claim a total-viewer lead in a season's ratings race, but thanks to a reinvigorated line-up that includes the unstoppable This Is Us, the return of Will & Grace, and TV's No. 1 alternative series, The Voice—as well as the one-two punch of Super Bowl LII and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Peyongchang, South Korea—they're finally able to make that claim once again. With an average of 9.569 million viewers for the season in "most current" results from Nielsen Media Research, including fast-official results for Feb. 9-11, the Peacock is No. 1.
In the time that's passed since NBC came out on top at the close of the 2001-02 season, the network has faced its fair share of struggles. For nine long seasons, from 2004-05 to 2012-13, the network routinely came in fourth place in total viewers. But it seems that, for now, those struggles are a thing of the past.
While the fateful combo of the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics has no doubt propelled the network to the prime position, NBC notes that, excluding all sports-related ratings, they are closer to CBS at this point in the season than they ever have been in 15 years, since the 2002-03 season.
As for the cause of their successes, the network points to the still-growing This Is Us, which is up 23 percent compared to last season, the reigning alternative champ The Voice, the biggest in-season alternative launch since the 2016 debut of Little Big Shots with Ellen's Game of Games, their Chicago franchise, which represents three of the top six most-watched 10 p.m. dramas on CBS, ABC and NBC when live+7 ratings are factored in, and some of the season's highest rated specials, including the 2018 Golden Globes and Christmas in Rockefeller Center.
"On behalf of myself and Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports, we are enormously proud of everyone at NBC for achieving the milestone of becoming America's most-watched network for the first time in 16 years," Bob Greenblatt, NBC Entertainment chairman, said in a statement. "Only five years ago we were still fourth place in total viewers after having regained the 18-49 demo crown in 2014, a level we've maintained for the past four full seasons.
"This is an achievement that reflects NBC's strength as a true broadcaster, delivering mega-events like Sunday Night Football, the Super Bowl and Olympics, along with the some of the highest-rated scripted and unscripted programming on television such as This Is Us, Will & Grace, The Voice, America's Got Talent, and the list goes on and on. We are incredibly proud of our owned and affiliated stations as well as our studio, programming, scheduling, sales, marketing, publicity, affiliate-relations and operations teams, all of which are second to none in this industry."
NBC also remains dominant in key adult 18-49 demo, where it's on track to win the season for the fifth consecutive season.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)