(EW.com) -- Another milestone ratings victory for NBC: The network is set to win its first November sweeps in nine years.
With 25 of the 28 nights of the sweeps period concluded, NBC is in first place among the valuable adults 18-49 demographic, averaging a 2.8 rating, up 17 percent from last fall. CBS led among total viewers. The news continues NBC's overall improved performance this season, driven by the fourth-quarter addition of reality hit The Voice.
"The fact we jumped from fourth [place] to first, and haven't been in this position in nine years, is really astonishing to all of us," says NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt on a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "It feels great ... there's a kind of intangible excitement in the building. I think it's infectious for our producers, our clients, our advertisers."
That said, NBC has realistic expectations about the second half of the season. The network's powerhouse sports franchise Sunday Night Football will exit the field and successful new drama Revolution and The Voice will soon take a break until March. Fox typically becomes a competitive force starting in January with the return of American Idol and has won the last eight seasons in a row.
Greenblatt says he doesn't expect NBC to remain in front, but would be happy to even rank third. The executive says he feels "pretty confident we're not going to end up in fourth place again this year ... Obviously there's some big competitive things coming. We expect a pretty significant leveling of the playing field."
The executive addressed a few programming issues:
-- On Revolution taking a break from December to March: The hiatus allows Revolution to remain paired with The Voice and for episodes to air for nine weeks this spring without repeats. "The first episode back completely turns the story in a really significant way and sends the second half of the season off in a new trajectory, which is exciting," Greenblatt says. The network is also has some unannounced Revolution news up its sleeve, probably digital content, to help keep the show alive during its hiatus. For more on this show, see previous post: "How J.J. Abrams pitched Revolution to NBC."
-- On how Smash season two will differ from season one: "It's going to be a great season," Greenblatt says. "There's a big new storyline with a second musical as Bombshell is heading toward Broadway. There's a little musical that comes out of the blue that's like Rent and takes on an enormous amount of momentum and pulls in some of our regular characters. By the end of the season it will be giving Bombshell a run for its money and it sets up a great competitive thrust — not only for the story, but for our characters. There's a group of younger characters that come with the new musical that will give the whole series [more] life. One [of the new characters] becomes a love interest for Katharine McPhee. It's a real shot in the arm for the show."
-- On whether Parenthood could receive more episodes this season: Nope, though it's still in contention for a renewal for next season.
-- On Up All Night becoming a multi-camera comedy with a studio audience: "We're trying to grow [our] audience and put on shows that feel more inclusive for more people. Up All Night is a show where we all love [the actors], we just feel like the show has never quite gotten to the place we wanted it to go. Sometimes these single-camera shows can languish a bit. [Stars Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph] all have done a lot of work in front of live audiences ... Some of the greatest comedies anybody can remember have been multi-cam, from Seinfeld to Will & Grace to Friends ...suddenly in the last few years the multi-cam show is like the ugly stepchild. We don't feel that way, we're developing more of them."
-- On when Bryan Fuller's Hannibal will debut: Near the end of the season at the earliest (like April). And there's a chance it might air during the summer.
-- Here's how the November sweeps period stack up in the ratings:
November Sweep Demo
November Sweep Total Viewers,
NBC...7.917 million...Up 15%
CBS...10.281 million...Down 10%
ABC..7.927 million...Down 15%
Fox ...6.522 million...Down 25%
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