NEW YORK — After a year spent mostly in the wilderness, NBC may have found its voice.
"The Voice," the network's new talent show, had an audience of 12.6 million viewers for its second episode last week, the Nielsen Co. said. That was up 7 percent from its premiere – making it the first new series on the four biggest broadcast networks this season to have more viewers for its second week than it did the first.
Professional singers Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera are "coaches" of their own teams of amateurs in the series. Among the youthful 18-to-49-year-old demographic, only the two editions of "American Idol" got bigger audiences last week, Nielsen said.
The series continues until the last week of June. NBC's next competition show, the popular "America's Got Talent," premieres on May 31.
Good ratings in the summer don't mean nearly as much as they do during the traditional television season of September through June. But having a couple of shows that draw an audience this summer could help NBC promote its new programming for the fall.
NBC was still a distant fourth in the ratings despite "The Voice," an indication of how thin the network's prime-time schedule is. "Law & Order: SVU," at No. 30, was the only other NBC show to finish within Nielsen's top 35 programs.
An estimated 14.1 million people watched President Barack Obama on "60 Minutes" Sunday, being interviewed by Steve Kroft about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. That beats the season average of 13.4 million for the newsmagazine and was particularly noteworthy because it was seen on Mother's Day during daylight hours – factors that usually drive down the show's audience.
HBO also noted that after four showings, "Game of Thrones" is already the network's third most popular series behind "True Blood" and "Boardwalk Empire." The most recent episode had a total of 8.5 million people who watched it last week in various time slots and through on demand, Nielsen said.
CBS averaged 10 million viewers in prime-time last week (6.2 rating, 10 share). ABC had 9.1 million viewers (5.8, 10), Fox had 8.4 million (4.9, 8), NBC had 5.7 million (3.6, 6), the CW had 1.7 million (1.1, 2) and ION Television had 960,000 (0.6, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.4 million prime-time average (1.8 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1.4 million (0.7, 1), TeleFutura had 460,000 (0.2, 1), Azteca had 300,000 (0.2, 0) and Estrella had 250,000 (0.1, 0).
During a busy week following bin Laden's death, NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9 million viewers (6.0, 12). ABC's "World News" was second with 8 million (5.4, 11) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.8 million viewers (3.9, 8).
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 May 2-8, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 21.4 million; "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 21.29 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 21.14 million; "NCIS," CBS, 17.87 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," ABC, 16.06 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 14.16 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 14.1 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 14 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 12.9 million; "The Voice," NBC, 12.58 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 General Electric Co. 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.