Viewership for the second and final full week of NBC’s prime-time coverage of the Tokyo Olympics dropped 46.5% from the same period for the 2016 Rio Games, but was still the second-largest weekly audience of any network since CBS aired Super Bowl LV, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.
NBC averaged 10.62 million viewers for its 22 hours of prime-time programming between Aug. 2 and Sunday, which consisted 21 1/2 hours of Olympics programming and the premiere of the game show “Family Game Night.”
CBS averaged 18.09 million viewers the week of Feb. 1-7 when it aired Super Bowl LV and NBC averaged 13.44 million for its first full week of Olympics coverage.
NBC averaged 19.85 million viewers for its 19 1/2 hours of prime-time programming that was rated the second full week of the 2016 Rio Games which included an Olympics-themed episode of the comedy “Superstore” and a half-hour auditions episode of the singing competition “The Voice.”
(Some of NBC’s prime-time programming that week aired without commercials. That portion was not included in the weekly average.)
Factors for the drop include the 13-hour time difference between Tokyo and the U.S. East Coast, which meant fewer events occurred during prime time and increased viewing of streaming Olympics coverage, including live coverage of events NBC later showed in prime time. The Tokyo Games were the most streamed media event.
Official viewership for nearly all programming is down compared to the past, mainly because of increased viewing of streaming programming, including programming originally airing on traditional television.
The week’s most-watched night was Tuesday when an average of 14.309 million viewers watched coverage featuring American gymnast Simone Biles winning the bronze medal in the balance beam and gold medal runs by Americans Sydney McLaughlin and Athing Mu.
Sunday’s closing ceremony averaged 8.818 million viewers, sixth for the week, 48.2% less than the 17.03 million average for the 2016 closing ceremony.
USA Network, which featured Olympic programming, drew the second-largest prime-time cable audience for the second consecutive week, averaging 1.161 million viewers. Since the start of its prime-time Olympic coverage July 24, USA Network has drawn its largest prime-time viewership average over a two-week period since March 2018.
The week’s most-watched non-Olympics prime-time program was Fox’s coverage of Thursday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, with an average of 7.311 million viewers watching the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Dallas Cowboys 16-3 in a game the Cowboys led 3-0 at halftime.
Viewership was up 36.8% from when game was last played, with NBC’s coverage of the Denver Broncos’ 14-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Aug. 1, 2019, averaging 5.346 million viewers, 13th for its week.
The NFL canceled all preseason games in 2020 in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
CBS was second for the week, averaging 2.29 million viewers, followed among the major English-language broadcast networks by Fox, which averaged 2.08 million; ABC, which averaged 1.9 million; and The CW, which averaged 430,000.
CBS and ABC both aired 22 hours of prime-time programming, Fox 16 hours, 50 minutes and The CW 12 hours.
The premiere of “Family Game Night,” which followed the Olympics’ closing ceremony, was 20th for the week and ninth among non-Olympics programming, averaging 3.388 million viewers.
Four episodes of the Fox News Channel political talk show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” topped the week’s prime-time cable programs, led by the Wednesday episode, which averaged 3.069 million viewers, 22nd for the week.
Fox News Channel was first among cable networks for the fifth consecutive week, averaging 2.062 million viewers.
MSNBC was third, averaging 1.041 million viewers. CNN was eighth, averaging 680,000, also trailing HGTV (980,000), TLC (910,000), Hallmark Channel (763,000) and History (713,000).
The week’s most-watched prime-time Spanish language program was the Monday episode of the Univision telenovela, “Si nos dejan” which averaged 1.653 million viewers, 44th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank is not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 88th consecutive week and 90th time in 91 weeks, averaging 1.32 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 960,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (370,000), Estrella TV (120,000) and Azteca America (40,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 88th consecutive week, the 139th time in 140 weeks and the 191st time in 193 weeks, averaging 7.434 million viewers.
“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 6.924 million viewers, followed by the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” which averaged 4.717 million viewers.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s Tuesday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Olympics coverage; the Olympics closing ceremony; the commercial-free opening 34 minutes of Friday’s Olympics coverage which was considered a separate program; the Saturday Olympics coverage, the commercial-free opening 31 minutes of Thursday’s Olympics coverage; and Fox’s broadcast of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.