What We’re Watching: NFL Dominates TV Ratings in Week with Record Amount of Prime-Time Games

By STEVEN HERBERT, City News Service
Published on Dec 30, 2021

NFL programming accounted for 11 of the 12 most- watched prime-time programs in a week with a record five nights of games and little first-run entertainment programming, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Wednesday.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the most-watched program for the 12th time in the 14-week-old 2021-22 prime-time television season, with the Dallas Cowboys’ 56-14 victory over the Washington Football Team averaging 17.277 million viewers, ninth among the season’s 16 “Sunday Night Football” games.

In addition to the weekly Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games, the NFL Network carried a customary late-season Saturday night game while Fox broadcast two games on a regional basis Tuesday that were rescheduled because of coronavirus issues.

“60 Minutes” was the most-watched non-sports program for the eighth time in the season, averaging 9.522 million viewers, sixth overall among prime- time broadcast and cable programs airing between Dec. 20 and Sunday.

The news magazine followed a 30-minute runover of CBS’ late afternoon NFL coverage in the Eastern and Central time zones, where the bulk of the nation’s population lives. The runover averaged 39.36 million viewers. The runover is not considered a separate program but is included in the weekly average.

“Yellowstone” was the most-watched entertainment program for the fourth time in five weeks, averaging a combined 8.31 million viewers on Paramount Network and CMT, ninth for the week behind four nights of NFL games, two NFL pregame shows, “60 Minutes” and Fox’s NFL postgame show Tuesday.

NBC was the most-watched network for the sixth time in the season, averaging 4.24 million viewers. CBS was second, averaging 3.97 million viewers, followed by Fox, which averaged 3.85 million for its 15 hours, 59 minutes of programming, and ABC, which averaged 3.46 million.

NBC, CBS and ABC each broadcast 22 hours of prime-time programming.

NBC’s most-watched non-NFL program was the Christmas Eve showing of the 1946 film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which averaged 3.4 million viewers, 23rd for the week and 10th among entertainment programs.

The CW averaged 430,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming. Its most-watched program was the 2000 animated special, “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” which averaged 600,000 viewers, 158th among broadcast programming, one spot behind the Monday rerun of the 1965-71 CBS comedy “Hogan’s Heroes” on Me TV.

The 20 most watched prime-time programs consisted of five nights of NFL games; five NFL pregame shows; Fox’s NFL postgame show Tuesday; “60 Minutes”; “Yellowstone” and its origin story, “1883”; four CBS entertainment programs; ABC’s coverage of Saturday’s Lakers-Brooklyn Nets game; and ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

With ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” splitting its audience with ABC, NFL Network’s coverage of Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts-Arizona Cardinals game was the most-watched cable program, ending “Monday Night Football’s’ 14- week winning streak, averaging 12.624 million viewers, fifth for the week.

ESPN was the most-watched cable network for the fifth time in eight weeks, averaging 2.194 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second after three first-place finishes in five weeks, averaging 1.828 million viewers. Hallmark Channel was third for the seventh consecutive week, averaging 1.245 million viewers.

The top 20 cable programs consisted of three NFL games; two NFL pregame shows and one postgame show; eight Fox News Channel political talk shows — four broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” three of “Hannity” and one of “The Ingraham Angle”; “Yellowstone”; “1883”; two college bowl games on ESPN; History’s long-running chronicle of the quest to solve the more than two-century-old treasure mystery on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island”; and the Dec. 22 edition of the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

An episode of the Univision telenovela “La Desalmada” was the most- watched prime-time Spanish-language program for the fourth time in five weeks, with the Wednesday episode averaging 1.908 million viewers, 50th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 108th consecutive week and 110th time in 111 weeks, averaging 1.24 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 820,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (420,000), Estrella TV (120,000) and Azteca America (40,000).

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for the 107th time in 108 weeks and 159th time in 161 weeks, averaging 8.337 million viewers. “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 7.127 million viewers, followed by the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” which averaged 5.081 million viewers.

The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”; the ABC-ESPN “Monday Night Football” simulcast; Fox’s Tuesday night regional NFL coverage; NBC’s 10-minute “Sunday Night Football” pre-kickoff show; the NFL Network’s coverage of Saturday’s Indianapolis-Arizona game; ABC-ESPN “Monday Night Football” kickoff show; the 23-minute third segment of NBC’s “Football Night in America”; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; Fox’s seven-minute NFL Tuesday postgame show; and “Yellowstone.”

Make a Comment

  • (not be published)