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NBC Exits Ratings Cellar With Young Viewers at Season End

May 24 (Bloomberg) -- Comcast Corp.’s NBC network will finish the TV season third among the younger viewers advertisers target for the first time in eight years.

During the 2011-2012 season, the second under Comcast ownership, the network climbed out of last place in the 18-to-49-year-old audience demographic, NBC said, citing preliminary Nielsen data.

The network edged past Walt Disney Co.’s ABC among the targeted viewers after NBC’s broadcast of the Super Bowl in February drew a record audience. NBC also scored ratings victories with “Sunday Night Football” and “The Voice” singing competition, with both shows challenging “American Idol” on News Corp.’s Fox in the demographic.

“We’ve taken some key first steps towards rebuilding prime time,” Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, said in an e-mailed statement. “We’re in a very good position to build on the progress of this past season. We’re genuinely excited about the future.”

NBC plans to jump-start two new programs by airing episodes during its coverage of the Olympics in London, which starts July 27, Greenblatt said in an interview in New York last week.

Super Bowl Factor

Excluding the Super Bowl, ABC said in an e-mail it finished slightly ahead of NBC among viewers ages 18 to 49. In the demographic, ABC had the biggest comedy with “Modern Family,” the most-watched drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and the top first-season drama with “Once Upon a Time.”

Nielsen will continue to collect data during the next two weeks, including delayed viewing from DVRs, and depending on the results, that could boost ABC’s ratings, the network said.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, climbed 0.5 percent to $28.93 in New York trading and the stock has gained 22 percent this year. Disney, based in Burbank, California, rose 0.5 percent to $44.44 and has increased 19 percent.

In total viewers, CBS Corp. won the ratings race for the season, averaging 11.7 million a night and leading the second-place finisher, Fox, by the largest margin in 23 years. ABC was third and NBC last.

CBS network, based in New York, said this week it won the ratings for the ninth time in the past 10 years.

In its own statement today, Fox declared victory among 18-to-49-year-olds. CBS was second.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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