CBS’ coverage of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-36 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills drew the largest audience for an NFL divisional playoff game in five years, 42.736 million viewers, 19.9% more than the divisional playoff game that aired in the time slot one year ago, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.
The audience was the largest for an NFL divisional playoff game since Fox’s coverage of the Green Bay Packers’ 34-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 15, 2017 averaged 48.522 million viewers. Last year’s divisional playoff game in the late Sunday time slot, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 30-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints, averaged 35.643 million viewers on Fox.
The weekend’s other prime-time playoff game, the San Francisco 49ers’ 13-10 victory over the Packers, averaged 36.923 million viewers, the most for a Saturday program in the history of Fox, which began broadcasting in prime time in 1987.
Viewership was up 40.7% from the divisional playoff game that aired in the time slot one year ago, the Buffalo Bills’ 17-3 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, which averaged 26.237 million viewers on NBC.
A specially scheduled post-football episode of “NCIS: Hawai’i” drew the largest audience for a scripted series episode on a broadcast network in the 18-week-old 2021-22 prime-time television season, 9.789 million viewers, following Sunday’s seven-minute Chiefs-Bills postgame show that averaged 26.91 million viewers.
Sunday’s opener of a two-part episode of the first-season CBS police procedural was seventh among the prime-time programs airing between Jan. 17 and Sunday, behind three NFL games, two pregame shows and one postgame show.
The season’s previous high among broadcast scripted shows was 8.52 million for the Jan. 4 episode of the CBS crime drama, “FBI.” Two episodes of the Paramount Network neo-Western “Yellowstone” drew larger audiences. Its Jan. 2 fourth-season finale averaged 10.3 million viewers and Nov. 7 season premiere 10.042 million.
The combination of the Kansas City-Buffalo game and having five of the week’s seven most-watched entertainment programs gave CBS the largest weekly audience for any network since Fox’s coverage of the opening five games of the World Series, Oct. 25-31, 10.37 million. CBS has finished first for three consecutive weeks and six times in the season.
Fox was second, averaging 7.92 million for its 16 hours of prime-time programming, followed by ABC, which averaged 4.1 million. NBC, the only of the four major networks without an NFL prime-time game, was fourth, averaging 3.06 million viewers. The CW averaged 560,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming.
CBS, ABC and NBC each broadcast 22 hours of prime-time programming.
CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the most-watched comedy for the 16th consecutive week, averaging 7.981 million viewers to finish eighth.
NBC’s most-watched program was “Chicago Med,” ninth averaging 7.448 million.
ABC’s most-watched non-football program was “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” 23rd averaging 4.936 million.
Fox’s most-watched non-football program was “WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown,” 68th for the week averaging 2.255 million.
The superhero series “Superman & Lois,” was The CW’s most-watched program for the second time in the two weeks it has aired this season, averaging 1.098 million viewers, 119th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
The 20 most watched prime-time programs consisted of three NFL games; two NFL pregame shows; one NFL postgame show; 11 CBS entertainment programs; and three NBC entertainment programs.
The top cable program was ESPN’s coverage of the NFL wild-card round playoff game between the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals Jan. 17 which averaged 8.832 million viewers. The Rams’ 34-11 victory also aired on ABC.
Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network following four consecutive second-place finishes behind ESPN, averaging 2.378 million viewers. ESPN was second, averaging 1.85 million, followed by MSNBC, which averaged 1.147 million, and HGTV, which averaged 1.125 million.
CNN was 14th for the second consecutive week, averaging 570,000 viewers, 3.1% less than its 588,000 average the previous week. CNN also trailed Hallmark Channel (951,000), TLC (894,000), History (753,000), Discovery (747,000), Food Network (729,000), Lifetime (642,000), TNT (615,000), TBS (597,000) and Investigation Discovery (572,000).
The top 20 cable programs consisted of ESPN’s coverage of the Rams-Cardinals playoff game and its 14-minute kickoff show; 13 Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and three of “The Ingraham Angle”; three editions of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show”; the Hallmark Channel movie, “Don’t Forget I Love You”; and History’s long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island.”
The most-watched prime-time Spanish-language program was the Thursday episode of the Univision telenovela “Vencer El Pasado” which averaged 1.948 million viewers, 61st among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 112th consecutive week and 114th time in 115 weeks, averaging 1.54 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 940,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (620,000), Estrella TV (110,000) and Azteca America (50,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for the 111th time in 113 weeks and 163rd time in 165 weeks, averaging 8.958 million viewers for its Tuesday through Friday newscasts.
“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 7.824 million viewers, followed by the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” which averaged 5.702 million viewers. The averages for both newscasts is based on Monday through Friday newscasts.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were CBS’ coverage of the Buffalo-Kansas City NFL playoff game; Fox’s coverage of the Green Bay-San Francisco NFL playoff game; Fox’s seven-minute Green Bay-San Francisco pregame show; CBS’ seven-minute Buffalo-Kansas City postgame show; the ABC-ESPN simulcast of the Rams-Arizona NFL playoff game and its 14-minute pregame show; CBS’ “NCIS: Hawai’i” and “Young Sheldon” and NBC’s “Chicago Med” and “Chicago Fire.”