The combination of the AFC championship game and the week’s four most-watched entertainment programs enabled CBS to draw the largest audience for any network since last year’s Super Bowl, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.
CBS averaged 10.41 million viewers for its 22 hours of prime-time programming between Jan. 18 and Sunday, the most since Fox averaged 25.09 million for its 16 hours of programming the week of Jan. 27-Feb. 2.
The previous high in the 18-week-old 2020-21 prime-time television season was Fox’s 9.05-million average for its 16 hours of programming the week of Jan. 11-17.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ 38-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday averaged 41.847 million viewers, the most for any prime-time program since Super Bowl Sunday. The season’s previous high was 35.643 million viewers for Fox’s coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 30-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints in an NFL divisional round playoff game Jan. 17.
The prime-time NFL conference championship game is customarily the most-watched program to that point of the season.
The first original episode of the CBS action drama “NCIS” since Dec. 8 was the week’s most-watched entertainment program, averaging 9.637 million viewers, third overall, behind the 19-minute AFC championship game postgame show, which averaged 17.884 million. A second original episode that followed averaged 8.747 million viewers, fifth for the week.
The episode of the CBS crime drama “FBI” that followed the AFC championship game postgame show averaged a season-high 8.993 million viewers, second among entertainment programs and fourth overall.
CBS also had the week’s most-watched comedy “Young Sheldon,” sixth overall and fourth among entertainment programs, averaging 7.385 million viewers.
ABC was second for the week, averaging 3.38 million viewers, followed by Fox, which averaged 2.71 million for its 15 hours of programming, and NBC, which averaged 2.51 million.
ABC and NBC also broadcast 22 hours of prime-time programming.
The season premiere of Fox’s procedural drama “9-1-1” was the week’s most watched non-CBS program, averaging 7.203 million viewers, seventh overall and fifth among entertainment programs.
“Celebrity Family Feud” was ABC’s most-watched program for the third time in the three weeks it has aired, averaging 6.304 million viewers, 10th for the week, eighth among non-sports programs and seventh among entertainment programs.
NBC’s most-watched program was “Celebrating America” which averaged 3.999 million viewers, 33rd for the week. The 90-minute special celebrating the presidential inauguration also aired live on ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC and streamed on several services.
The 9-10 p.m. segment of CNN’s inauguration coverage was the week’s most-watched cable program, averaging 7.078 million viewers, eighth for the week.
CNN was the most-watched cable network for the second time in three weeks, 2.757 million viewers. MSNBC was second, averaging 2.665 million and Fox News Channel third, averaging 2.56 million.
The most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was the Univision News special “Una Nueva Era” on President Joe Biden’s inauguration which averaged 2.114 million viewers, 64th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 60th consecutive week and 62nd time in 63 weeks, averaging 1.24 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 1.1 million viewers followed by UniMas (510,000), Estrella TV (170,000) and Azteca America (70,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 60th consecutive week, the 111th time in 112 weeks and the 163rd time in 165 weeks, averaging 10.144 million viewers.
“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 8.278 million viewers, followed by the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” which averaged 6.166 million viewers.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were CBS’ coverage of the AFC championship game and its 19-minute postgame show; the 8 p.m. Tuesday “NCIS” episode; the Sunday episode of “FBI”; the 9 p.m. Tuesday “NCIS” episode; and “Young Sheldon”; Fox’s “9-1-1” the 9-10 p.m. segment of CNN’s inauguration coverage; CBS’ “Blue Bloods”; and “ABC’s “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.”
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