NBC executives cannot be happy about the news that the network fell to fifth place in the key 18-49 demographic for February sweeps. Reuters

NBC executives cannot be happy about the news that the network fell to fifth place in the key 18-49 demographic for February sweeps. It’s the first time ever that NBC has slipped that far, but will they be able to recover from the disastrous numbers?

Deadline is reporting that NBC fell to fifth place for the February sweeps. The 18-49 demographic is important because of advertising dollars, and a poor showing could mean future losses as advertisers decide to go elsewhere to promote their products. Forget competing with CBS or ABC -- NBC fell behind Univision in the 18-49 demographic.

During the November sweeps, NBC was No. 1 in the 18-49 demographic graphic, but its reign was short-lived as the numbers for February sweeps, starting on Jan. 31 and ending on Feb. 19, revealed a 1.2 rating.

The fall sweeps victory for NBC could be something of an anomaly as the numbers were due to some great programming. NBC won the fall sweeps thanks to a bump from the Summer Olympics, as well as “The Voice,” notes the Los Angeles Times. NBC had an unlikely hit in “Revolution” and the NFL drawing consistently big ratings on Sunday. Once the goodwill of the Olympics left and there was the absence of “The Voice” and the NFL to deliver consistent ratings, it’s not too surprising that NBC may slip during February sweeps. But to fall to fifth is still shocking.

February sweeps is when television networks debut new shows or bring back shows after a winter hiatus and are used to create ad rates, the LA Times noted. AMC had a great February sweeps, for example, thanks to the strong ratings for the return of “The Walking Dead.” NBC launched several new shows, and none of them worked out. “Smash” returned for a second season but posted poor ratings, and “Do No Harm” was a historic bomb, getting canceled after just two episodes.

NBC finished behind CBS, Fox, ABC and Univision. CBS has been a consistent hit thanks to its strong comedy lineup, which includes “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother.” NBC could be in trouble, because there is nothing outside of their tent-pole programs. “The Voice” and “Revolution” are returning, and, while the singing competition will bring solid ratings, it is unclear if “Revolution” will deliver like it did in the fall.

“Nothing's really held. Go night by night, and they don't really have anything that's performing well,” Senior Vice President at media agency TargetCast Gary Carr said to the LA Times. He also noted the lack of any exciting new programming for NBC as another sign of trouble for the network.

NBC could bounce back in the fall, but, of the 28 pilots they ordered, none of the programs are guaranteed to be hits. The LA Times noted that NBC bought 11 drama and 17 comedy pilots, while CBS ordered 12 drama and 12 comedy pilots. While NBC can look forward to decent ratings from “The Fall” and “America’s Got Talent” in the near future, its fall schedule will be scrutinized, and the network hopes that one of the new shows will be a huge hit.