ESPN’s coverage of the Los Angeles Rams 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs drew the largest “Monday Night Football” audience in nearly two years and the network’s most-watched program since the College Football Playoff championship on Jan. 8, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Wednesday.
The Nov. 19 game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum which was the third-highest scoring game in NFL history averaged 16.892 million viewers, fourth among prime-time broadcast and cable programs airing between Nov. 19 and Sunday.
The audience was the largest for a “Monday Night Football” game since Dec. 26, 2016, when the Dallas Cowboys 42-21 victory over the Detroit Lions averaged 18.611 million viewers.
In a week that mixed the final three days of the November ratings sweeps with four days dominated by football, reruns and Christmas specials, NFL-related programming accounted for each of the week’s six most-watched prime-time programs, topped by Fox’s nine-minute postgame show following the Thanksgiving afternoon game between Dallas and Washington that averaged 23.361 million viewers.
NBC’s Thanksgiving night game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons was second for the week, averaging 21.727 million viewers, a 28.5 percent increase over last year’s Thanksgiving night game, a 28-10 victory by Washington over the New York Giants that averaged 16.905 million viewers.
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” game, a 24-17 victory by the Minnesota Vikings over the Green Bay Packers, was third for the week, averaging 20.442 million viewers, a 7.9 increase over the 18.954-million average for the 2017 Thanksgiving week “Sunday Night Football” game, the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-28 victory over Green Bay on Chris Boswell’s career-long 53-yard field goal as time expired.
The week’s most-watched non-NFL program was the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes,” seventh for the week, averaging 12.957 million viewers.
“60 Minutes” followed a 34-minute runover of CBS’ afternoon NFL coverage into prime time that averaged 27.40 million viewers. The runover is not considered a separate program but is included in the weekly average.
The CBS action drama “NCIS,” was the week’s most-watched entertainment program, averaging 11.951 million viewers, eighth for the week.
“NCIS” and “60 Minutes” were the week’s only non-NFL programs to average more than 9 million viewers.
As is customary, CBS opted to air a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory” on Thanksgiving, which averaged 5.624 million viewers, 31st for the week. It had been the most-watched entertainment program for each of the first eight weeks of the 2018-19 prime-time television season.
The two prime-time NFL games helped NBC to its most-watched week of the nine-week-old season, averaging 9.070 million viewers for its third consecutive weekly victory and fifth of the season. Its previous high was 7.87 million in the season’s first week.
NBC’s most-watched program outside its NFL coverage was the Tuesday episode of the singing competition “The Voice,” 12th overall and third among entertainment programs, averaging 8.23 million viewers.
CBS was second for the third consecutive week, averaging 6.41 million viewers.
ABC was third, averaging 4.58 million viewers after four consecutive fourth-place finishes. Its most-watched program was the “Dancing with the Stars” season finale Nov. 19, 16th for the week, averaging 7.883 million viewers, 14.3 percent less than the 9.2-million average for last fall’s season finale.
Viewership for most forms of programming has decreased in recent years, in part because of competition from streaming programs, including streams of the same programs shown on traditional television.
Without a “Thursday Night Football” game for the first time this season, Fox finished fourth among the broadcast networks, averaging 2.89 million viewers for its 17 hours, six minutes of prime-time programming. Outside of its nine-minute NFL postgame show, its most-watched program was “MasterChef Junior: Celebrity Showdown,” 37th for the week averaging 5.307 million viewers.
CBS and ABC both broadcast 22 hours of programming for ratings purposes, NBC 21 1/2.
ESPN was the most-watched cable network for the third time in four weeks, averaging 4.299 million viewers. Hallmark Channel was second, averaging 2.629 million, and Fox News Channel third, averaging 1.546 million.
The Univision beauty pageant “Nuestra Belleza Latina” was the week’s most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program, averaging 1.969 million viewers, 78th among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the fourth consecutive week, averaging 1.24 million viewers. Telemundo finished second, averaging 1.14 million, followed by UniMas, which averaged 450,000 viewers, Estrella TV, which averaged 330,000, and Azteca America, which averaged 90,000.
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir’s” 51-week streak as the most-watched network nightly newscast was ended by the “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” which averaged 9.173 million viewers for its Monday, Tuesday and Friday newscasts.
“World News Tonight with David Muir” was second, averaging 7.667 million viewers for its Monday through Thursday newscasts.
The “CBS Evening News” averaged 6.472 million viewers for its Monday and Tuesday 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 Fox’s nine-minute NFL postgame show Thursday; NBC’s coverage of Thursday’s New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons game and “Sunday Night Football”; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”; NBC’s 10-minute pre-kickoff show Thursday and nine-minute “Sunday Night Football” pregame show; CBS’ “60 Minutes” and “NCIS”; and NBC’s 25-minute third segment of “Football Night in America” and 13-minute pregame show Thursday.
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