The TV audience for Sunday night NFL football was the tiniest in five years, as the matchup was apparently just boring to most viewers.
And that was with a tense overtime finish.
The combination of a lackluster matchup and competition from the Los Angeles Dodgers playoff game caused perennial weekly ratings leader “Sunday Night Football” to draw its smallest audience since 2011, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen.
The Houston Texans 26-23 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts on NBC averaged 13.595 million viewers to finish fifth among the prime-time programming airing between Oct. 10 and Sunday.
The audience was the smallest for a “Sunday Night Football” game since Oct. 23, 2011 when the New Orleans Saints 62-7 victory over a Colts team that would finish the season 2-14 averaged 12.47 million viewers, opposite Game 4 of baseball’s World Series.
“Sunday Night Football” was the most-watched program for each of the previous four weeks. The NFL again produced the week’s most-watched program, Fox’s 15-minute NFL postgame show “The OT,” which averaged 15.384 million viewers.
Fox Sports 1 averaged 7.291 million viewers for its coverage of the Dodgers 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series opposite “Sunday Night Football,” the most-watched event in the history of the cable network, which began operation on Aug. 17, 2013.
The game was the week’s second most-watched cable program behind ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers which averaged 9.057 million viewers, and 31st overall.
Baseball coverage enabled Fox Sports 1 to finish first for the week among cable networks, averaging 3.648 million viewers, the most in its history and nearly double the previous record set two years ago. Fox News Channel was second among cable networks, averaging 2.438 million.
CBS had three of the week’s four most-watched programs to be the most- watched network for the fourth time in the four-week-old season, averaging 9.11 million viewers. NBC was second, averaging 7.18 million viewers, followed by ABC, which averaged 5.83 million.
Despite averaging a season-high 5.11 million viewers, Fox finished fourth among the four major broadcast networks for the 27th consecutive week dating back to last season.
The order of finish among the major broadcast networks has been the same each week of the season.
This is the eighth consecutive time CBS has won each of the first four weeks of the season.
CBS’ “NCIS” was the most-watched non-NFL program for the fourth time this season, averaging 14.770 million viewers to finish second overall.
CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” game between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers was third for the week, averaging 14.494 million viewers, followed by “The Big Bang Theory,” which averaged 14.412 million.
CBS’ “Bull” returned from a week’s absence to be the week’s most- watched new series, averaging 13 million viewers, finishing sixth overall.
CBS’ “Kevin Can Wait” was the most-watched new comedy for the fourth time in the four times it has aired, averaging 8.703 million viewers to finish 22nd overall.
The week’s only premiere on the four major broadcast networks, the comedy “American Housewife,” averaged 6.61 million viewers, ABC’s largest audience in the 8:30-9 p.m. Tuesday time slot with scripted programming since the Jan. 6, 2015 premiere of “Marvel’s Agent Carter.”
“American Housewife” was third in its time slot behind two of the week’s 10 most-watched programs, “NCIS” and the NBC singing competition “The Voice” and 37th for the week.
Fox received a major boost from the 45-minute runover of its Sunday afternoon NFL coverage into primetime.
The precise viewership for the runover, which was mainly for the game between two of the league’s most popular teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, was not available. The first 30 minutes averaged 30.072 million viewers and the final 15 27.120 million.
The runover is not considered a separate program, but is included in the weekly average.
CBS and ABC both aired 22 hours of programming for ratings purposes, NBC 21 1/2 hours and Fox 15 hours.
The week’s most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program for the fifth consecutive week was the Telemundo drama based on the life of the late singer Juan Gabriel. “Hasta Que Te Conoci” which averaged 2.948 million viewers, 94th overall.
Telemundo was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the fifth time in six weeks, averaging 1.72 million. Long-time leader Univision was second, averaging 1.66 million, followed by UniMas, which averaged 480,000 viewers, Estrella TV (260,000) and Azteca America (110,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for fourth consecutive week, averaging 8.291 million viewers.
The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 8.045 million.
The “CBS Evening News” was third, as it has been throughout Scott Pelley’s more than five years as anchor, averaging 6.554 million viewers for its Monday through Wednesday and Friday newscasts.
CBS did not include Thursday in its weekly average because of preemptions and schedule changes in some markets because of “Thursday Night Football.”
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were Fox’s 15-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT”; CBS’ “NCIS,” “Thursday Night Football” and “The Big Bang Theory”; NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”; CBS’ “Bull”; the Monday episode of NBC’s “The Voice” and 11-minute “Sunday Night Football” kickoff show; CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles” and the Tuesday episode of NBC’s “The Voice.”
—City News Service