Prime-time coverage of the midterm elections results Nov. 6 averaged 36.111 million viewers, topping each of the four most-recent midterm elections, countering the trend of declining viewership for most forms of programming, according to figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.
The viewership was up 59 percent over the 2014 coverage, which averaged 22.712 million, 3.4 percent over the 2010 coverage, which averaged 34.911 million, 15 percent over the 2006 coverage, which averaged 31.398 million, and 37.3 percent over the 2002 coverage which averaged 26.297 million.
Fox News Channel had the most-watched coverage, averaging 7.809 million viewers, 17th among prime-time programs airing between Nov. 5 and Sunday.
NBC was second, averaging 5.379 million, followed by CNN, which averaged 5.103 million, ABC, which averaged 4.973 million, MSNBC, which averaged 4.75 million, and CBS, which averaged 3.855 million.
For the ninth time in the 10-week-old NFL season, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the week’s most-watched program.
The Dallas Cowboys 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles drew the third-largest audience during the seven-week-old prime-time television season, 20.101 million viewers, trailing two other “Sunday Night Football” games.
The CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory” was the most-watched entertainment program for the seventh consecutive week, averaging 12.853 million viewers, fourth overall.
NBC was the most-watched network for the third time this season following three consecutive second-place finishes, averaging 7.09 million viewers.
NBC had three of the week’s six most-watched entertainment programs, topped by the Monday episode of the singing competition “The Voice,” third among entertainment programs and 11th overall, averaging 9.022 million viewers.
CBS was second, a week after its third first-place finish of the season, averaging 6.75 million viewers.
CBS received a boost from a 40-minute runover of its afternoon NFL coverage into prime time in the Eastern and Central time zones which averaged 23.3 million viewers.
The runover is not considered a separate program, but is included in the weekly average.
Fox finished third for the fourth time this season, averaging 5.28 million viewers for its 17 hours of prime-time programming. Outside of its NFL coverage, its most-watched program was “Last Man Standing,” 27th for the week, averaging 6.296 million viewers.
ABC was fourth for the third consecutive week and fifth time this season, averaging 4.62 million viewers. Its most-watched program was “Dancing with the Stars,” 20th for the week, averaging 7.139 million viewers.
“20/20: Becoming Michelle,” Robin Roberts’ interview with former first lady Michelle Obama, drew ABC’s largest non-sports audience in the Sunday 9-10 p.m. time slot since the June 10 season premiere of “The $100,000 Pyramid,” averaging 5.499 million viewers, third in the time slot and 35th for the week.
CBS and ABC both broadcast 22 hours of programming for ratings purposes, NBC 21 1/2.
ESPN’s Nov. 5 “Monday Night Football” game between the Cowboys and Tennessee Titans was the week’s most-watched cable program, averaging 12.042 million viewers, sixth overall.
A “Monday Night Football” game has been the most-watched cable program for each week of the NFL season.
There was little change in viewership from what was apparently the final episode of “The Walking Dead” with star Andrew Lincoln and the first one without him.
The AMC horror series averaged 5.396 million viewers Sunday, its third-largest audience of the season behind the ninth season premiere Oct. 7, which averaged 6.076 million, and Lincoln’s apparent final episode Nov. 4, which averaged 5.414 million.
“The Walking Dead” was fourth among cable programs and 38th overall.
Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network, averaging 3.254 million viewers. ESPN was second, averaging 2.959 million, and MSNBC third, averaging 2.301 million.
The Nov. 5 premiere of the Univision historial drama “Jesus” was the most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program, averaging 1.912 million viewers to finish 82nd among broadcast programs. Its overall place was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the second consecutive week, averaging 1.37 million viewers. Telemundo finished second, averaging 990,000, followed by UniMas, which finished averaged 380,000 viewers, Estrella TV, which averaged 330,000, and Azteca America, which averaged 100,000.
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 50th consecutive week and 61st of the past 62, averaging 8.736 million viewers for its Monday and Wednesday though Friday newscasts.
The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 8.567 million viewers for its five weekday newscasts.
The “CBS Evening News” averaged 6.253 million viewers for its Monday and Wednesday though Friday newscasts. It has finished third each week since the week of Sept. 25-29, 2006.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”; Fox’s “Thursday Night Football”; NBC’s 11-minute “Sunday Night Football” pregame show; CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and “60 Minutes”; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”; CBS’ “Young Sheldon”; NBC’s 22-minute third segment of “Football Night in America”; Fox’s 17-minute “Thursday Night Football” pregame show and Fox’s six-minute NFL postgame show Sunday.