The 2012-13 television season just finished up its fourth week, and there are clearly two major success stories overall: NBC has been the highest-rated network in 18-49 for four weeks in a row, the first time it's done so in a whole decade, while "The Walking Dead" made history by becoming the top-rated series on all of televison, beating everything on the networks (except for sports). More on that as well as other winners — notably regarding the presidential debates — and losers from premiere week as Indiewire offers up highlights from the just-in ratings:
Winner: The Presidential Debates
The second and third debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were both up from their 2008 counterparts. The second managed 65.6 million viewers, while the third found 59.3 million (and notably aired against Monday Night Football on ESPN and Game 7 of the MLB NLCS o Fox). In 2008, those numbers were 63.2 million and 56.5 million, respectively. ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC all aired the second debate, while all of those minus Fox aired the second.
Winner: Fox News
While NBC was the overall most-viewed network when it came to both these debates, the network only barely beat Fox News, which broke an all time ratings record with the third debate, managing 11.5 million viewers. That's 400,000 more than the record set when Sarah Palin and Joe Biden squared off for the vice presidential debate of 2008.
The news wasn't so good for Fox News' sister network, which has fallen steeply so far this season (after being the top broadcast network in the coveted adults 18-49 rating for years). The network has dropped to a fourth place tie in that demo (with ABC), down a whopping 25% from last season. In total viewers, Fox is down to 6.5 million, also a 25% drop. The network failed to have a single series rank in the top 25 shows last week, in terms of 18-49 or overall viewers.
Talk about trading places. In large part thanks to "Sunday Night Football" and "The Voice" (the top-rated series so far this season in 18-49), NBC had six of the top 10 shows in 18-49 last week. It also — as noted — has won the first four weeks of the season in that demographic, the first time its done so in a decade (back when "Friends" and "ER" were still on the air).
Loser: Animal Practice, Guys With Kids and Chicago Fire
The craziest part of NBC's new reign at the top is that it's all thanks to three nights: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, meanwhile, the network is placing fourth (even getting beat by the CW on Wednesday thanks to their hit "Arrow." The main culprits? New series "Animal Practice," "Guys With Kids" and "Chicago Fire." NBC already cancelled "Animal," but surely "Kids" and "Fire" will meet the same fate any minute now.
Winner: 60 Minutes
It might not be a 18-49 demographic hit, but the whopping 45th season of "60 Minutes" is pulling its weight in overall viewers. Thanks in part to an interview with Steven Spielberg on Sunday, "60 Minutes" was the #2 show overall (behind "Sunday Night Football"), nabbing 15.9 million viewers. It also managed a not-too-shabby 3.6 rating in 18-49, topping the more youth-skewing likes of "Grey's Anatomy," "How I Met Your Mother," "Revenge" and "Once Upon a Time."
Loser: The Office
Though by no means 45 years old, "The Office" is also something of a TV veteran by most standards, and thankfully it's already been confirmed that this is it's final season. Better than being cancelled, which it might have been considering it reached a series low rating of just a 2.1 in the 18-49 demo, and only 4.28 million viewers. It finished a distant fourth in both regards, getting beat by "Grey's Anatomy," "Person of Interest" and Fox's baseball playoffs.
Winner: The Walking Dead
While it was down slightly from its record-breaking season premiere, the second episode of AMC's "The Walking Dead" confirmed something pretty amazing: It's the highest rated non-sports telecast among adults 18-49 on all of television this fall, a huge feat for the series and for AMC. The show scored a 5.1 18-49 rating (down from 5.8 during its premiere), and 9.1 million viewers. Its coveted 18-49 rating is higher than "The Voice," "Modern Family," "The Big Bang Theory," and, well, everything else except for "Monday NIght Football."