NBC Universal
NBC Universal. Photo by John Schreiber.

“Sunday Night Football” drew its smallest audience in nearly a year enabling Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” to end the five-week streak of an NBC NFL broadcast being the week’s most-watched prime-time program, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.

The New England Patriots 35-14 victory over the New York Giants on “Thursday Night Football” averaged 16.263 million viewers to be the most-watched prime-time program between Oct. 7 and Sunday.

The Los Angeles Chargers 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Sunday Night Football” was second for the week, averaging 14.887 million viewers, the least for a “Sunday Night Football” game since October 28, 2018, when the New Orleans Saints 30-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings opposite the fifth and final game of the World Series averaged 14.09 million viewers.

Factors depressing the Chargers-Steelers audience included the teams’ combined 3-6 record entering into the game, Pittsburgh taking a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter and Steelers undrafted rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges making his first start.

Despite the lower viewership than usual, “Sunday Night Football” was watched by nearly 2.5 million more viewers than the week’s most-watched non-NFL program, the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes,” which drew its largest audience since March 31, 12.408 million viewers, finishing third for the week.

The audience for “60 Minutes” was bolstered by the 31-minute runover of CBS’ afternoon NFL coverage into prime time that immediately preceded it in the Eastern and Central time zones and averaged 25.57 million viewers. The runover is not considered a separate program, but is included in the weekly average.

CBS combined having four of the week’s five most-watched scripted programs with the high viewership for its early Sunday evening programming to be the week’s most-watched network for the first time in the three-week-old 2019-20 prime-time television season, averaging 6.62 million viewers.

NBC was second for the second consecutive week, averaging 6.35 million, followed by Fox, which averaged 6.02 million viewers for its 17 hours of programming, and ABC, which averaged 4.02 million viewers to finish fourth for the third time this season.

CBS, NBC and ABC each broadcast 22 hours of prime-time programming. ABC was the only major broadcast network without any NFL programming for the week.

For the third time this season, CBS had the most-watched entertainment program, “NCIS,” sixth for the week averaging 11.205 million, the most-watched comedy “Young Sheldon,” 13th for the week, averaging 7.642 million viewers, and the most-watched new series, “Bob (Hearts) Abishola,” 39th for the week, averaging 5.3 million.

NBC’s most-watched programs outside of its NFL coverage for the third time this season were its two editions of “The Voice.” The hourlong Tuesday edition was 10th for the week, fourth among non-NFL programs, averaging 8.546 million viewers, one spot ahead of the two-hour Monday edition which averaged 8.537 million viewers.

Fox’s most-watched non-NFL program for the second consecutive week was the procedural drama “9-1-1,” 17th for the week and 10th among non-NFL programs, averaging 7.359 million viewers.

Fox’s coverage of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, the first game of Major League Baseball’s postseason airing on broadcast television, was second in its Saturday night time slot behind the Florida-LSU college football game on ESPN, averaging 6.108 million viewers, 30th for the week.

LSU’s 42-28 victory over Florida averaged 6.45 million viewers, 25th for the week and second among cable programs. The audience was the largest for a regular-season college football game on ESPN since Nov. 11, 2017, when it averaged 7.126 million viewers for Alabama’s fourth-quarter rally for a 31-24 victory over Mississippi State.

ABC’s most-watched program was “Dancing with the Stars,” 27th for the week, averaging 6.398 million viewers.

For the fifth time in five weeks, ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was the most-watched cable program, with the San Francisco 49ers 31-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns averaging 11.557 million viewers, fourth for the week.

ESPN was the most-watched cable network in prime time for the second consecutive week after back-to-back second-place finishes behind Fox News Channel, averaging 3.027 million viewers.

Fox News Channel was second for the second consecutive week, averaging 2.719 million viewers. TBS was third for the second consecutive week, thanks to coverage of National League postseason baseball, averaging 2.221 million viewers.

The most-watched Spanish-language program was the Tuesday episode of the Univision drama “La Usurpadora,” which averaged 1.741 million viewers, 80th among broadcast programming. Its overall position was not available.

Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the eighth time in nine weeks, averaging 1.33 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 1.06 million, followed by UniMas, which averaged 350,000, Estrella TV, which averaged 240,000 viewers, and Azteca America, which averaged 70,000.

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 46th consecutive week and 97th time in the past 98 weeks, averaging 8.145 million viewers.

The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 7.351 million viewers. The “CBS Evening News” averaged 5.096 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 Fox’s “Thursday Night Football”; NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”; NBC’s nine-minute “Sunday Night Football” kickoff show; CBS’ “NCIS”; the 22-minute third segment of NBC’s “Football Night in America”; Fox’s 16-minute “Thursday Night Football” kickoff show; CBS’ “FBI”; and the Tuesday and Monday episodes of NBC’s “The Voice.”

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