With no major awards shows or sporting events, the CBS action drama “NCIS” became the first scripted program to top the weekly prime-time television ratings during the 2018-19 season, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Wednesday by Nielsen.
“NCIS” drew its largest audience since May 8, averaging 13.377 million viewers to be the most-watched prime-time program airing between Feb. 11 and Sunday. “NCIS” was helped to the top by CBS’ decision not to air an original episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” television’s most-watched non-sports series.
“The Big Bang Theory” airs on Thursday, which was Valentine’s Day last week, when viewership is customarily is lower because of the larger amount of people leaving their homes to celebrate.
The only non-sports programming to top prime-time ratings during the first 20 weeks of the season were the Jan. 27 edition of the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” and the Grammy Awards Feb. 10.
The NBC talent competition “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” was the week’s only other prime-time program to top 10 million viewers, averaging 10.449 million viewers, the largest audience during its six-week run.
CBS had four of the week’s five most-watched programs to finish first for the fifth consecutive week and the 10th time in the season.
NBC was second, averaging 5.19 million viewers, followed by ABC, which averaged 3.76 million, and Fox, which averaged 3.57 million for its 15 hours, 50 minutes of prime-time programming.
Fox’s viewership was boosted by a 42-minute runover of its coverage of the Daytona 500 auto race into prime time. The viewership for the complete runover was not available. The first 30 minutes averaged 11.145 million viewers.
The runover is not considered a separate program but is included in the weekly average.
CBS, NBC and ABC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming for ratings purposes.
“The Masked Singer” was Fox’s most-watched program for the fifth consecutive week, averaging 7.848 million viewers, ninth among the week’s broadcast and cable programs.
ABC’s most-watched program was the medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” 19th among broadcast programs, averaging 6.587 million viewers.
The week’s only premiere on the four major broadcast networks, the Fox legal drama “Proven Innocent,” was fifth in its Friday 9-10 p.m. time slot, including trailing the MSNBC talk show “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and 67th for the week, averaging 3.083 million viewers.
The opening half-hour of “Proven Innocent” averaged 3.296 million viewers, 58.5 percent of the 5.635 million-audience of “Last Man Standing” that preceded it.
The second half-hour of “Proven Innocent” averaged 2.871 million viewers, 12.9 percent less than the first.
TNT’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Game was the week’s most-watched cable program, averaging 5.766 million viewers, 27th overall.
Viewership for the “Players Only” telecast of the game with ex-players exclusively serving as broadcasters on TBS was not available.
Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network for the fifth consecutive week, averaging 2.477 million viewers.
TNT was second, averaging 2.253 million and MSNBC third, averaging 1.897 million.
The most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was the Tuesday episode of the Univision drama anthology “La Rosa de Guadalupe” which averaged 1.919 million viewers to finish 80th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 16th consecutive week, averaging 1.41 million viewers. Telemundo finished second, averaging 1.13 million viewers, followed by UniMas, which averaged 370,000, Estrella TV, which averaged 280,000, and Azteca America, which averaged 70,000.
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 12th consecutive week and 63rd time in the past 64 weeks, averaging 9.35 million viewers.
The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 8.747 million viewers.
The “CBS Evening News” averaged 6.667 million viewers. It has finished third each week since the week of Sept. 25-29, 2006.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were CBS’ “NCIS”; NBC’s “America’s Got Talent: The Champions”; CBS’ “60 Minutes,” “FBI” and “Blue Bloods”; NBC’s “Chicago Med” and “Chicago Fire”; a rerun of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory”; Fox’s “The Masked Singer” and a rerun of CBS’ “Young Sheldon.”