NEW YORK (AP) — With "Sharknado" and a tight battle between NBC and CBS, the week's Nielsen ratings illustrated how that traditional measurement is becoming less of a clear picture of how people are consuming television.
Last week's debut of the campy "Sharknado 2: The Second One" sequel averaged 3.87 million viewers on the SyFy network, the Nielsen company said. That was good, although not great: Seven other programs on cable television alone had larger audiences last week.
But SyFy didn't air the movie just once. "Sharknado 2: The Second One" was on four times last week, seen by a total of 9.5 million people. The movie also inspired some 581,000 tweets last week, more than any other program on television, Nielsen said.
There were shark-infested skies on SyFy all week, since the network aired last year's original movie four times, too.
Meanwhile, Nielsen said NBC narrowly beat CBS to be the most-watched network last week. The three most popular programs on the air last week were all on NBC — two editions of "America's Got Talent" and Sunday's exhibition football game between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.
Wait a few days, however, and CBS is likely to claim the week's crown. That's because Nielsen's weekly rankings are based on who watches the programs live or within the next 24 hours, and reality shows and sports programming are most likely to be watched live.
Dramas, which dominate CBS' schedule, are more likely to be time-shifted. For example, the July 14 episode of CBS' "Under the Dome" was seen by 7.6 million people within the first 24 hours, and just under 12 million within seven days — a 57 percent increase due to people watching on their DVRs or on demand. That week's one episode of "America's Got Talent" saw only a 17 percent bump when the full week's viewership was taken into account.
Fox saw an historic low in the ratings last week. Its prime-time average of 2.3 million viewers was lower than any other week's average achieved by any of the four biggest broadcast networks in Nielsen's records, with the exception of a couple of weeks in 2012 when NBC aired the London Olympics. Fox aired few original programs last week except for "Master Chef" and "Hotel Hell."
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