By STEVEN HERBERT
City News Service
With four NCAA men’s basketball tournament games among the top six prime-time programs, CBS finished first in the ratings for the fifth time in the five weeks following the conclusion of NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.
CBS averaged 6.22 million viewers for its prime-time programming between March 21 and Sunday. The weekly average was CBS’ most since the week of Jan 17-23, when it aired the Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-36 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills in an NFL divisional playoff game and averaged 10.37 million viewers for the week.
CBS’ viewership was up 13.7% from its 5.47-million average the previous week.
CBS’ most-watched program was St. Peter’s’ 67-64 upset of Purdue Friday to become the first 15th-seeded team to reach the Elite 8. The game averaged 10.181 million viewers, third for the week.
CBS also had the most-watched scripted program, “FBI,” eighth for the week, averaging 8.022 million viewers; the most-watched first-season series, “FBI: International,” 14th averaging 6.11 million; the most-watched 10 p.m. program, “FBI: Most Wanted,” 15th, averaging 5.788 million following “FBI: International”; and the most-watched comedy, “Bob Hearts Abishola,” 18th averaging 5.386 million.
The Oscars gave ABC its largest weekly average of the 27-week-old 2021-22 television season, 5 million. Sunday’s three-hour, 20-minute ceremony at the Dolby Theatre hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes was first for the week, averaging 16.623 million viewers, the second-lowest on record but 59.8% more than last year’s record-low of 10.403 million.
The audience was the season’s largest for a prime-time entertainment program.
Outside of its Oscars programming, ABC’s most-watched program was “American Idol,” 21st for the week averaging 5.29 million viewers.
NBC averaged 2.28 million to finish third among the broadcast networks and fifth overall behind TBS (2.811) and Fox News Channel (2.466 million). With NBC airing reruns of its three “Chicago” series, its most-watched program was “This Is Us,” 26th for the week averaging 4.449 million viewers.
CBS, ABC, NBC, TBS and Fox News Channel all aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
Fox averaged 2.27 million viewers for its 15 hours of prime-time programming, topped by “9-1-1,” 20th for the week averaging 5.333 million viewers for the procedural drama’s first original episode since Dec. 6.
The CW averaged 440,000 for its 14 hours of programming. The superhero drama “Superman & Lois,” was The CW’s most-watched program for the fifth time among its eight original episodes this season, averaging 797,000 viewers, 147th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
The only premiere on the five major English-language broadcast networks, NBC’s “American Song Contest,” was fifth in its 8-10 p.m. time slot March 21 and 53rd for the week, averaging 2.86 million viewers.
The 20 most watched prime-time programs consisted of four NCAA men’s basketball tournament games and two between-games bridge shows on CBS; Saturday’s Arkansas-Duke game on TBS and the 20-minute bridge show that preceded it; “60 Minutes”; seven CBS entertainment programs; ABC’s Oscars coverage and two red carpet shows that preceded it; and Fox’s “9-1-1.”
The most-watched cable program was TBS’ coverage of Duke’s 78-69 victory over Arkansas Saturday that extended retiring coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career into the Final Four. The Elite 8 game averaged 10.342 million viewers, second for the week.
NCAA tournament coverage enabled TBS to end Fox News Channel’s nine-week streak as the most-watched cable network, averaging 2.811 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second, averaging 2.466 million viewers, and MSNBC third, averaging 1.121 million.
The cable top 20 consisted of 11 Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” four of “Hannity” and two of “The Ingraham Angle”; five NCAA men’s tournament games and three between games bridge shows on TBS; and History’s long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island.”
The most-watched Spanish-language program was Univision’s coverage of Thursday’s U.S.-Mexico World Cup qualifier, which was 45th overall, averaging 2.962 million viewers.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 121st consecutive week and 123rd time in 124 weeks, averaging 1.48 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 960,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (540,000), Estrella TV (130,000) and Azteca America (40,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for the 120th time in 121 weeks and 172nd time in 174 weeks, averaging 8.282 million viewers. “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 6.831 million.
The “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell” was third, averaging 4.867 million.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were ABC’s Oscars coverage; TBS’ broadcast of the Duke-Arkansas basketball game; CBS’ broadcasts of the St. Peter’s-Purdue, North Carolina-UCLA, Duke-Texas Tech and Arkansas-Gonzaga basketball games; TBS’ 20-minute NCAA tournament bridge show Saturday; CBS’ “FBI” and 19-minute NCAA tournament bridge show Thursday; and the 33-minute third segment of ABC’s “The Oscars Red Carpet Show.”