Coverage of the first round of the NFL draft drew its second-largest audience, topping all of the week’s prime-time entertainment programs and surpassing the Oscars four days earlier, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.
An average of 12.6 million viewers watched Thursday’s four-hour, six-minute draft telecast on ESPN, ABC, the NFL Network, ESPN Deportes and digital channels.
Viewership was down 18.7% from last year’s record 15.5 million, when the draft was held on a virtual basis for the first time and was held when more people were at home than usual and did not face competition from telecasts of other sporting events because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN’s coverage averaged 6.479 million viewers, first among prime-time cable programs airing between April 26 and Sunday and seventh overall. ABC’s coverage averaged 4.192 million viewers, 23rd for the week, and the NFL Network’s 1.85 million.
Viewership for the NFL draft was larger than the Oscars for the first time. ABC’s Oscars telecast averaged a record-low 10.403 million viewers April 25.
Coverage of President Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress last Wednesday averaged 26.936 million viewers on 16 cable and broadcast networks, 43.6% less than the 47.741 million average on 11 broadcast and cable networks for the corresponding speech given by then-President Donald Trump in 2017.
More viewers watched the speech on MSNBC than any other network, 4.116 million, second among cable programs and 24th overall.
Viewership for nearly all forms of programming has decreased in recent years, mainly because of increased viewership of streaming programming.
CBS had each of the week’s five most-watched individual programs, topped by “NCIS,” which averaged 8.546 million viewers for its fifth first-place finish in the 32-week-old 2020-21 prime-time television series. “NCIS” is the season’s only scripted program to win a week this season.
CBS also had the week’s most-watched news magazine, “60 Minutes,” which was second for the week, averaging 7.619 million viewers, and the most-watched comedy, “Young Sheldon,” fourth for the week, averaging 7.344 million.
CBS returned to the top of the network race, one week after ABC ended its 13-week winning streak, averaging 4.83 million viewers for its 16th victory of the season.
ABC was second, averaging 3.22 million, followed by NBC, which averaged 2.94 million viewers.
Fox was fourth for the 14th consecutive week, averaging 2.12 million viewers for its 15 hours, 41 minutes of programming. The CW again was fifth among the five major English-language broadcast networks, averaging 630,000 viewers for its 12 hours.
CBS, NBC and ABC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
The NBC singing competition “The Voice” was the most-watched non-CBS program, averaging 6.8 million viewers. The Sunday edition of “American Idol” was ABC’s most-watched program for the fifth consecutive week it has aired, averaging 6.01 million viewers, ninth for the week.
Fox’s most-watched program was the procedural drama “9-1-1” which averaged 5.965 million viewers, 10th for the week. A “9-1-1” episode has been Fox’s most-watched program all 10 weeks it has aired this season.
The martial arts action-adventure series “Kung Fu” was The CW’s most-watched program for the fourth time in the four weeks it has aired, averaging 1.051 million viewers, 118th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network in prime time for the fifth consecutive week and 13th time in 14, averaging 2.202 million viewers. ESPN was second, averaging 2.042 million, and MSNBC third, averaging 1.593 million.
The most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was the Monday episode of the Univision telenovela “Te acuerdas de mí,” which averaged 1.609 million viewers to finish 76th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 74th consecutive week and 76th time in 77 weeks, averaging 1.23 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 920,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (590,000), Estrella TV (140,000) and Azteca America (40,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 74th consecutive week, the 125th time in 126 weeks and the 177th time in 179 weeks, averaging 7.377 million viewers. “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 6.527 million viewers, followed by the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” which averaged 4.938 million viewers.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were CBS’ “NCIS,” “60 Minutes,” “FBI,” “Young Sheldon” and “The Equalizer”; NBC’s “The Voice”; ESPN’s coverage of the first round of the NFL draft; CBS’ “Blue Bloods”; ABC’s “American Idol” and Fox’s “9-1-1.”