College football bowl games and “Monday Night Football” combined to make ESPN last week’s most-watched network as its broadcast competition ran lineups filled with reruns, according to live-plus- same day figures released by Nielsen.
ESPN had four of the 10 most-watched prime-time programs between Dec. 26 and Sunday and averaged 8.384 million viewers for the week. NBC averaged 6.21 million viewers to finish second after five consecutive first-place finishes.
CBS was third, averaging 5.75 million viewers, followed by ABC, which averaged 4.14 million, and Fox, which averaged 3.2 million.
ESPN’s coverage of Clemson’s 31-0 victory over Ohio State in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl, which served as the prime-time College Football Playoff semifinal, was second for the week, averaging 18.396 million viewers.
Viewership was down 0.8 percent from the 18.552 million average for last year’s College Football Playoff semifinal, Alabama’s 38-0 victory over Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.
Friday’s Orange Bowl between Florida State and Michigan on ESPN averaged 11.469 million viewers, finishing eighth for the week, trailing NBC’s Sunday Night Football and two of its pregame shows and the Fiesta Bowl.
The audience was the fourth largest of the college football season, behind Saturday’s daytime College Football Playoff semifinal between Alabama and Washington in the Peach Bowl, which averaged 18.915 million viewers, the Fiesta Bowl, and the Michigan-Ohio State game on ABC on Nov. 26, which averaged 16.647 million.
ESPN’s most-watched prime-time program of the week was the “Monday Night Football” game between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys Dec. 26 which was second for the week, averaging 18.611 million viewers, the most for a “Monday Night Football” game since Oct. 27, 2014, when the game between Dallas and Washington averaged 18.81 million viewers.
The Green Bay Packers NFC North Division-championship clinching victory on “Sunday Night Football” was the week’s most-program, averaging 23.82 million viewers.
It was the fourth consecutive “Sunday Night Football” game to average more than 21 million viewers, the first time the final four games of an NFL prime-time package have each topped 21 million viewers since ABC’s “Monday Night Football” in 1995.
The week’s most-watched entertainment program was the 10-11 p.m. segment of ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2017,” which averaged 11.556 million viewers, seventh overall. Viewership was down 11.2 percent from last year’s average of 13.02 million.
The Fox comedy The Mick was the most-watched of the week’s two premieres on the major broadcast networks, averaging 8.579 million viewers to finish 14th for the week and second in its Sunday 8-8:30 p.m. time slot against NBC’s NFL programming.
The Mick retained 76.3 percent of the 11.25 million-viewer average audience for Fox’s 13-minute NFL postgame show The OT which preceded it.
The amount of viewership a series retains from the program preceding it is among the factors network executives consider when deciding on its future.
The other premiere, the CBS drama “Ransom,” averaged 6.652 million, 16th for the week and second in its time slot behind “Sunday Night Football.” Under Nielsen rules, Ransom is considered to have aired from 8:41-9:40 p.m., the time it ran in the Eastern Time Zone.
Ransom retained 56.8 percent of the 11.719-million average for “60 Minutes” which preceded it.
The week’s most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was the Friday episode of the Univision telenovela “El Color De Las Pasion” which averaged 2.162 million viewers, 107th overall.
Long-time leader Univision averaged 1.73 million viewers to be the most- watched Spanish-language network for the eighth consecutive week and 10th time in 11 weeks.
Telemundo was second, averaging 1.35 million viewers, followed by UniMas, which averaged 620,000 viewers, Estrella TV, which averaged 220,000, and Azteca America, which averaged 90,000.
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” ended the “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt’s” five-week streak of being the most-watched nightly newscast.
“World News Tonight with David Muir” averaged 8.948 million viewers for its Tuesday through Thursday newscasts while the “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” averaged 8.802 for the same nights.
The “CBS Evening News” was third, as it has been throughout Scott Pelley’s more than five years as anchor, averaging 6.657 million viewers for its Tuesday through Friday newscasts.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were were NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” and the Fiesta Bowl; NBC’s nine-minute “Sunday Night Football” kickoff show; the 26-minute third segment of “Football Night in America”; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; `Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2017 ESPN’s coverage of the Orange Bowl; Fox’s 13-minute NFL postgame show “The OT”; and ESPN’s 24-minute Fiesta Bowl postgame show.
—City News Service
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