Facing no original scripted competition, the Thanksgiving night NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints drew the fifth-largest audience in the 10-week-old 2021-22 prime-time television season, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Wednesday.
Buffalo’s 31-6 victory averaged 19.378 million viewers. The only programs to top that this season were the New England Patriots-Tampa Bay Buccaneers “Sunday Night Football” game Oct. 3 (26.747 million), its 12- minute pregame show (20.317 million), the Arizona Cardinals-Green Bay Packers “Thursday Night Football” game on Fox Oct. 28 (20.264 million), and the Sept. 26 “Sunday Night Football” game between Green Bay and the San Francisco 49ers (19.693 million).
The Paramount Network neo-Western “Yellowstone” was the most-watched non-sports program for the second time in four weeks, averaging 7.89 million viewers, eighth overall.
“Young Sheldon” was the most-watched comedy for the eighth consecutive week, averaging 6.568 million viewers, third among non-NFL programs and 10th overall. The rerun followed a 15-minute NFL postgame show that averaged 15.192 million viewers, third for the week.
The NBC epic adventure “La Brea” was the most-watched new series, averaging 4.332 million viewers, 22nd overall and 13th among non-sports programs. The fall finale of the ABC medical drama “The Good Doctor” was the most-watched program beginning at 10 p.m., averaging 4.22 million viewers, 23rd for the week and 14th among non-sports programs.
The combination of the Bills-Saints game and “Sunday Night Football” made NBC the most-watched network for the fifth time in the season, averaging 6.84 million viewers between Nov. 22 and Sunday.
CBS was second, averaging 4.8 million, followed by Fox, which averaged 3.4 million for its 16 hours of programming, and ABC, which averaged 3.15 million. The CW averaged 540,000 for its 14 hours of programming.
CBS’ weekly average included the 32-minute runover of Thursday’s Dallas Cowboys-Las Vegas Raiders game, which averaged 41.51 million viewers. Fox’s average included the 49-minute runover of its Sunday afternoon NFL coverage. Its viewership figure was not available. The runovers are not considered separate programs.
NBC, CBS and ABC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
NBC’s most-watched non-NFL programs were the Tuesday and Monday editions of “The Voice,” 13th and 14th overall and fifth and sixth among non- NFL programs, averaging 6.341 million and 6.328 million.
With CBS airing a rerun of the season’s most-watched non-NFL program, “NCIS,” its news magazine “60 Minutes” was its most-watched non-NFL program, averaging 7.558 million viewers, ninth for the week and second among non-NFL programs.
ABC’s most-watched program was Saturday’s Oklahoma-Oklahoma State “Saturday Night Football” game, 11th for the week, averaging 6.486 million viewers. Its most-watched non-sports program was the season finale of “Dancing With the Stars,” 16th for the week and eighth among non-sports programs, averaging 5.643 million viewers.
Fox’s most-watched program was its 11-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT,” fifth for the week, averaging 11.695 million viewers. Its most-watched non-NFL program was “The Simpsons,” which averaged 3.61 million viewers following “The OT,” 27th for the week and 18th among non-sports programs.
The CW’s most-watched program was “The Waltons’ Homecoming” which averaged 969,000 viewers, 117th among broadcast programs. The overall rank was not available for the two-hour movie based on the 1971 made-for-television movie “The Homecoming,” which spawned the 1972-81 CBS Depression-era drama “The Waltons.”
The 20 most watched prime-time programs consisted of three NFL games; three NFL pregame shows; two NFL postgame shows; ABC’s coverage of the Oklahoma- Oklahoma State college football game; “Yellowstone”; “60 Minutes”; five CBS entertainment programs; two NBC entertainment programs; “Dancing with the Stars” and Tucker Carlson’s interview with Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, who was found not guilty of all charges related to the fatal shootings of two men and the wounding of another during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Monday Night Football” was the most-watched cable program for the 11th time in 11 2021 regular-season broadcasts, with Tampa Bay’s 30-10 victory over the New York Giants averaging 10.345 million viewers, sixth for the week.
ESPN was the most-watched cable network for the third time in four weeks, averaging 2.825 million viewers. Fox News Channel dropped one spot to second, averaging 2.106 million. Hallmark Channel was third for the third consecutive week, averaging 2.005 million viewers.
The top 20 cable programs consisted of “Monday Night Football” and its 13-minute pregame show; ESPN’s coverage of the Duke-Gonzaga men’s college basketball game and North Carolina-North Carolina State college football game; nine Fox News Channel political talk shows — four broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” three of “Hannity” and two of “The Ingraham Angle” — four Hallmark Channel “Countdown to Christmas” movies; “Yellowstone”; the Tuesday edition of the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show”; and 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.”
The Monday episode of the Univision telenovela “La Desalmada” was the most-watched prime-time Spanish-language program, averaging 1.676 million viewers, 70th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 104th consecutive week and 106th time in 107 weeks, averaging 1.29 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 840,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (530,000), Estrella TV (150,000) and Azteca America (40,000).
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were the Thursday night and Sunday night NFL games on NBC; CBS’ 15-minute NFL postgame show Thursday; NBC’s 10-minute “Sunday Night Football” pre-kickoff show; Fox’s 11- minute Sunday NFL postgame show, “The OT”; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”; the 21-minute third segment of NBC’s “Football Night in America”; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” and CBS’ “Young Sheldon.”