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Strange but true: Long-dormant Peacock still leading new season among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds

Revolution and The Voice have punched up the Peacock's 18-to-49 ratings through first four weeks of new season. NBC photos

NBC likely won't make it all the way to the finish line as the 2012-13 TV season's most-watched network among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

For now, though, the Peacock is entitled to crow about being No. 1 in this key demographic through the first four weeks of the season. Not only that, it's won all four of them on the strength of its usual ratings giant, Sunday Night Football, and with big assists from The Voice and Revolution.

CBS remains the runaway winner in total viewers. And with the Super Bowl on its plate this season, it will rack up huge 18-to-49 numbers for the Feb. 3rd game in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the NFL will leave NBC in January. And a planned replacement lineup of Dateline, Fashion Star, The Celebrity Apprentice and the new drama Do No Harm will be fortunate to do even half as well as Sunday Night Football.

Fox also has a diminished but still potent American Idol in reserve. And an elongated World Series between the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants would improve the network's so far dismal fall standing in both ratings measurements.

But NBC at least is finally back in the game among viewers that most advertisers still crave above all others. Football ratings are better than ever on Sunday. And the decision to air two cycles of The Voice, rather than starting it in midseason, has paid major dividends on Monday nights.

Last fall, NBC went into battle on Mondays with two big losers, The Sing-Off and The Playboy Club. This time around, two-hour performance editions of The Voice are clubbing ABC's Dancing with the Stars among 18-to-49-year-olds before the new serial drama Revolution holds steady against ABC's still potent Castle.

Revolution remains the most-watched new series of the season among 18-to-49-year-olds, although NBC could face the same problems Heroes had if a hiatus or reruns slow its momentum.

NBC also is scoring with Tuesday night's results editions of The Voice, which precede the new sitcoms Go On and The New Normal. Both of these freshman have received full-season pickups and are performing solidly with 18-to-49-year-olds.

The second-year series Grimm is hardly a juggernaut, but still ranks as Friday's No. 1 scripted series in the 18-to-49 measurement.

All of this adds up to NBC's best showing among 18-to-49-year-olds since the first four weeks of the 2007-08 TV season. And it's the only Big Four broadcast network to register a year-to-year improvement in this demographic while ABC, CBS and Fox so far are showing double-digit decreases.

The Peacock's resurgence, for the time being at least, helps to remove the bitter taste of numerous prime-time failures in recent seasons, none bigger than the five-nights-a-week Jay Leno Show in fall 2009. NBC also has tried and failed miserably with the likes of Knight Rider, Bionic Woman, Kath & Kim, Journeyman, Lipstick Jungle, The Event, Chase, Undercovers, Outsourced and Outlaw. Critically praised long-distance runners such as Friday Night Lights and Chuck were never able to deliver sizable ratings in any measurement.

It only takes a few hit shows, however, to turn a network's fortunes around. And The Voice, as does Fox's Idol, provides the added bonuses of filling several hours of prime-time on multiple nights.

Here are the four-week, season-to-date standings so far in both 18-to-49-year-olds and total viewers:

NBC -- 3.9 million
CBS -- 3.4 million
ABC/Fox -- 3.0 million

Total Viewers
CBS -- 11.3 million
ABC -- 8.8 million
NBC -- 8.4 million
Fox -- 6.5 million