NEW YORK (AP) — A rough week for "The X-Factor" made it a brutal week in the ratings for Fox, which established an historic low-water mark for a big broadcast network during the key November sweeps period.
The Nielsen company said Fox's prime-time average of 3.8 million viewers last week was smaller than any recorded by ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox in November. Fox also finished fourth among the young viewers that are its most sought-after audience.
Simon Cowell's "The X-Factor," never a big hit, has collapsed this fall, down 28 percent from last year, Nielsen said. Viewers interested in music competition shows have clearly bet on NBC's "The Voice," which exceeded 11 million viewers for both of its episodes last week.
"The X-Factor" last Wednesday had 4.5 million viewers, with Thursday's audience 3.7 million. That's tough to recover from, since the show fills three hours of Fox's prime time. A glitch last week really hurt: A mistake in a posted phone number meant Fox had to throw the week's voting results out, eliminating a big reason to watch Thursday's show.
Fox couldn't point to many other highlights, either. Its most-watched show, "Sleepy Hollow" on Monday, ranked No. 38 for the week in broadcast. Shows with critical success like "Glee" and "New Girl" have lost steam in the ratings.
It was the week after the World Series ended, and Fox noted that it's often a difficult point for the network. Several of its prime-time shows have been pre-empted by baseball the past couple of weeks and viewers have drifted away.
Fox executives say they're focusing on the big picture, which is that viewership overall this fall is up over last year, and that ratings for its young demographic are holding up better than its rivals.
CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 11.4 million viewers. NBC had 8.6 million viewers, ABC had 7.9 million; Univision had 3.2 million; the CW had 1.6 million; Telemundo had 1.3 million and ION Television had 1.2 million.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 3.4 million viewers in prime time. The Disney Channel had 2.1 million; Fox News Channel had 2 million; TBS had 1.9 million and USA had 1.88 million.
Stretching the season paid dividends for the Hallmark Channel, which enthusiastically books holiday programming. With movies like "A Very Merry Mix Up" and "A Bride for Christmas" last week, the network nearly doubled its prime-time audience compared to the same week a year ago.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.3 million viewers. ABC's "World News" was second with 8.1 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.4 million viewers. The end of daylight savings time gave the news shows their traditional boost — collectively, they had 1.5 million more viewers than the week before.
For the week of Nov. 4-11, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Dallas at New Orleans, NBC, 21.09 million; "NCIS," CBS, 19.18 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 16.89 million; "CMA Awards," ABC, 16.76 million; NFL Football: Chicago at Green Bay, ESPN, 16.1 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 15.87 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 15.26 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 14.76 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 13.72 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 12.2 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.