Readers: NBC was the big story of 2012
Network hit highs, winning the fall in 18-49s, as well as lows
January 3, 2013
For both better and worse, 2012 was the year of NBC.
It seemed every major news story in television last year related to the longtime fourth-place network.
Its stunning rise to first place among adults 18-49 this fall was one of the biggest single-season turnarounds ever seen in television, coming months after record ratings for the Olympics and the Super Bowl.
It wasn’t all high notes. The network’s botched firing of “Today” co-anchor Ann Curry was one of the year’s biggest debacles.
For the good and the bad, NBC drew more attention than any other broadcast network in 2012.
And now, for the first time in the seven years Media Life has run its year-end poll inviting readers to weigh in on the year’s highs and lows in media, media buyers and planners voted NBC the broadcast network with the best year.
More than half of respondents, 53.3 percent, chose the channel for the honor. The No. 2 network, CBS, received just 26.7 percent of the vote, and no other network got more than 7 percent.
It was a deserved honor. NBC was the only network to see its 18-49 rating rise this fall, up 25 percent over last year.
It also has the season’s top new drama, “Revolution,” and top new comedy, “Go On,” as well as broadcast’s No. 1 show overall, “Sunday Night Football,” and No. 1 reality show, “The Voice.”
Still, NBC wasn’t without its problems last year, in the minds of media planners and buyers.
Asked to name 2012’s biggest media debacle, 40 percent of readers chose “NBC’s botched firing of ‘Today’ co-host Ann Curry.”
She was dismissed over the summer in an awkward on-air segment following weeks of rumors about her future, after just a year on the job.
Many saw her as the scapegoat for “Today’s” ratings woes. “Good Morning America” snapped the show’s 17-year winning streak last April, and its ratings have fallen since then. “GMA” is now the No. 1 morning show.
No other media debacle came close to “Today’s” mishandling of Curry’s exit, according to readers. They voted fallout from the News Corp. British tabloid phone hacking scandal as the No. 2 mishap, with 20 percent of the vote.
Readers are apparently big Curry fans. Asked to name the 2012 media casualty that hit the hardest, half picked Curry’s exit.
Twenty-three percent said Larry Hagman’s death was the biggest media casualty, while 16.7 percent picked the demise of the print edition of Newsweek.
As for the year’s top overall media story, readers chose the “massive growth for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets,” which received 23 percent of the vote.
Ownership of tablets soared last year, and smartphones for the first time accounted for the majority of cell phones.
That led to big gains for mobile advertising, as well as speculation over how these devices will impact traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, all of which are being consumed on the go more and more.
“Increases in mobile are correlated with print’s decline, mobile growth and accessibility of content helped fuel Olympics online viewership,” noted one reader.
Wrote another, “There is growing interest in people wanting to have access to their favorite content anywhere, not just waiting to get to home to watch or access it.”
Other top stories of the year included NBC’s ratings revival and the closure of the print edition of Newsweek, both of which received 16.7 percent of the vote. Record political advertising came in fourth at 13.3 percent.
Readers will be watching the continued gains of cable ratings in the coming year. They chose “Cable competing with broadcast with shows like ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ and ‘Duck Dynasty’” as the year’s top TV story, getting 42 percent of the vote.
The easy winner for top magazine story was Newsweek closing its print edition, which received 66.7 percent of the vote.
The continuing British phone hacking scandal and the rising number of newspapers ducking behind paywalls tied for top newspaper story, each getting 23.3 percent of the vote.
There was also a tie for top web story between Facebook’s IPO and the huge growth for mobile devices, both receiving 30 percent of the vote.
Finally, 43.3 percent of readers voted “Australian DJs’ show canceled after royal prank call apparently prompts suicide” as the top radio story of the year.
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