Mel B tosses fizzy water at fellow judge Simon Cowell on "America's Got Talent."
Mel B tosses fizzy water at fellow judge Simon Cowell on “America’s Got Talent.” Image via Twitter

What do college football games and “America’s Got Talent” have in common?

While they both feature their own brands of conflict and battle, they are also ratings gold for their networks.

While “America’s Got Talent” extended its streak as broadcast television’s most-watched program to eight consecutive weeks, a college football viewership record enabled ABC to end NBC’s seven-week streak as the most-watched network, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen.

ABC’s coverage of Saturday’s Alabama-Florida State game averaged 12.335 million viewers, the most for a game during the first full week of the college football season. The previous record was 10.945 million for ABC’s coverage of the Sept. 4, 2016 game between Notre Dame and Texas.

Alabama’s 24-7 victory and the seven-minute pregame show gave ABC its largest Saturday prime-time audience since Feb. 6, 2016 when it aired a Republican presidential debate, 12.625 million viewers.

“America’s Got Talent” and college football accounted for all three prime-time programs between Aug. 28 and Sunday to average more than 7.5 million viewers.

The two-hour Tuesday “America’s Got Talent” episode averaged 13.128 million viewers, 16.6 percent more than the 11.259-million average for last season’s third live performance episode.

The Alabama-Florida State game was second, followed by the hourlong “America’s Got Talent” results show Wednesday which averaged 11.093 million viewers, the most for a Wednesday live results show, excluding finales, since the Sept. 7, 2011 episode that averaged 12.4 million viewers.

ABC also received a boost from Sunday’s West Virginia-Virginia Tech game which was 16th for the week, averaging 4.645 million viewers, giving the network its most-watched Sunday since June 11.

ABC averaged 4.61 million viewers to end its 10-week streak of third- place finishes. Its most-watched non-sports program was “Bachelor in Paradise,” 14th for the week, averaging 5.051 million viewers.

NBC was second, averaging 4.59 million viewers.

CBS averaged 3.87 million viewers to finish third after nine second- place finishes the previous 10 weeks. Its most-watched programs were “60 Minutes,” fifth for the week, averaging 7.051 million viewers, and the Wednesday edition of “Big Brother,” sixth, averaging 6.134 million.

Fox also broadcast college football on both Saturday and Sunday, but did not benefit like ABC did, finishing fourth among the broadcast networks for the 30th consecutive week since airing Super Bowl LI, averaging 2.29 million viewers for its 17 hours of prime-time programming.

Saturday’s Louisville-Purdue game, which aired opposite the Alabama- Florida State game, was 131st among the week’s prime-time and cable programs, averaging 1.792 million viewers.

Sunday’s UCLA-Texas A&M game was 38th for the week, averaging 3.19 million viewers.

Fox’s most-watched programs were the 9 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday episodes of “MasterChef,” which were 24th and 29th for the week, averaging 3.798 million viewers and 3.508 million.

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

The Alabama-Florida State game was the week’s most-watched program by viewers ages 18-49, averaging 5.066 million viewers among the group targeted by ABC, Fox, NBC and many cable networks and coveted by advertisers.

The Tuesday “America’s Got Talent” episode was second, averaging 3.395 million, followed by the Alabama-Florida State pregame show, which averaged 2.611 million viewers, and the Wednesday “America’s Got Talent,” episode, which averaged 2.508 million.

College football also accounted for the week’s most-watched cable program, ESPN’s coverage of Thursday’s Ohio State-Indiana game, which averaged 5.135 million viewers, 10th overall.

Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network in prime time for the 15th consecutive week, 20th time in 23 weeks and 29th in the past 33, averaging 2.128 million viewers.

ESPN was second, averaging 1.777 million. MSNBC was third, averaging 1.747 million after finishing second 10 of the previous 12 weeks.

CNN averaged 1.064 million viewers to finish eighth after back-to-back fifth-place finishes.

The most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was Univision’s coverage of Friday’s Mexico-Panama World Cup qualifier which averaged 2.563 million viewers to finish 70th overall.

Univision and Telemundo tied for first among Spanish-language networks, both averaging 1.41 million viewers. UniMas was third, averaging 450,000 viewers, followed by Estrella TV, which averaged 240,000 and Azteca America, which averaged 90,000.

NBC’s decision not to include the Friday broadcast in the weekly average because of Labor Day enabled it to end ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir’s” 12-week streak as the most-watched nightly network newscast.

The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” averaged 8.516 million viewers for its Monday through Thursday broadcasts. “World News Tonight with David Muir” averaged 8.514 million viewers for its Monday through Friday broadcasts.

The “CBS Evening News” was third, averaging 6.205 million viewers for its Monday through Friday broadcasts. The “CBS Evening News” has finished third each week since the week of Sept. 25-29, 2006.

The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were the Tuesday episode of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”; ABC’s “Saturday Night Football” game between Alabama and Florida State; the Wednesday “America’s Got Talent” results episode; the seven-minute “Saturday Night Football” game pregame show; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; the Wednesday edition of CBS’ “Big Brother”; NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior”; CBS’ “NCIS”; the Sunday episode of “Big Brother”; and ESPN’s coverage of the Ohio State-Indiana game.

—City News Service

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