ABC's "Modern Family" may not be the top-rated comedy on television, but it's the one most viewers catch up with on their digital video recorders.
Through the first two weeks of the season, the Nielsen Co. said an average of 4.5 million viewers watched a recording of "Modern Family" after it first appeared on the air. That lifted the show's viewership from nearly 14 million people who watched it live to 18.5 million.
It was the prime-time program that got the biggest lift when Nielsen's measurement of who watches on DVR within seven days is added in. Networks are increasingly watching this new ratings measurement as DVR penetration increases.
Eight shows besides "Modern Family" saw their audiences grow by more than 3 million when the DVR statistics were added. Six are on CBS, led by "Two and a Half Men." ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and Fox's "Terra Nova" picked up significant time-shifted viewing.
By percentage, the two-week champ was Fox's "Fringe." It airs live on Fox on Friday night, when many of the network's young viewers are out, and saw its viewership increase by 45 percent from 3.3 million to 5 million with DVRs added in.
NBC's ratings this season are abysmal, but one ray of light is that the network's "Parenthood," "Prime Suspect" and "Up All Night" increased their audiences by more than 30 percent through DVRs, Nielsen said.
The DVR numbers could be the difference between life and death for marginal series. ABC's just-canceled "Charlie's Angels" had virtually the same live audience as its new "Pan Am" last week, but during the first two weeks of the season the percentage of people who watched "Pan Am" on DVR was more than twice that of "Charlie's Angels."
In what's becoming a pattern, CBS dominated live viewing again last week with 16 of the top 25 shows in Nielsen's ranking. A strong newcomer was ABC's comedy "Last Man Standing," which landed in the top 10 with its premiere, evidence of actor Tim Allen's enduring popularity.
For the week in prime time, CBS led with an average of 10.6 million viewers (6.7 rating, 11 share), Fox had 9 million and ABC had 8.6 million (both 5.5, 9), NBC had 6.4 million (4.1, 7), the CW had 1.7 million (1.1, 2) and ION Television had 940,000 (0.6, 1).
Among the Spanish-language stations, Univision led with an average of 3.2 million viewers (1.7, 3), Telemundo had 1.1 million (0.4, 1), TeleFutura had 510,000 (0.3, 0), Estrella had 220,000 and Azteca 190,000 (both 0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 8 million viewers (5.4 rating, 11 share), ABC's "World News" had 7.5 million (5.1, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.5 million (3.8, 7).
A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of Oct. 10-16, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "NCIS," CBS, 18.98 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," ABC, 16.89 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 16.79 million; NFL Football: Minnesota at Chicago, NBC, 16.57 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 16.2 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 15.4 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 14.39 million; "Modern Family," ABC, 13.65 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 13.58 million; "Last Man Standing," ABC, 13.19 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 and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.