NBC's victory during the November ratings sweeps period means there's a new king of broadcast television — at least for now.
The network ended CBS' 18-year winning streak in November, a period when ratings are watched closely to set advertising rates. A combination of factors, including football, producer Dick Wolf and the absence of “The Big Bang Theory" all contributed.
NBC's “Sunday Night Football” telecast has averaged 20.2 million viewers this fall, making it the most popular program on TV, the Nielsen company said. The closest entertainment program is CBS' “NCIS," with 14.5 million. The splintering of television's audience increases the relative importance of football in the ratings and should give NBC some pause before doing a victory dance, since it goes away soon.
NBC has also shown strength with Wolf's trio of Chicago-based dramas, which have come to dominate broadcast television on Wednesday nights. NBC's “This is Us” ranks below “NCIS” and “FBI” as the third most-popular entertainment show.
At the same time, the loss of “The Big Bang Theory” has left a hole in CBS' lineup.
With prime-time football games on Sunday and Thanksgiving night, NBC had a dominant week. On Thanksgiving Day, the 22.1 million people who watched the “Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade” on NBC made it the most popular entertainment show on TV since the Oscars, Nielsen said.
For Thanksgiving week in prime time, NBC averaged 8.9 million viewers. CBS had 6.3 million, ABC had 3.6 million, Fox had 3.1 million, ION Television had 1.4 million, Univision had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 880,000 and the CW had 790,000.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.78 million viewers in prime time. Hallmark was second with 2.45 million, Fox News Channel had 2.14 million, MSNBC had 1.28 million and Discovery had 999,000.
ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.3 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" was second with 9.1 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6 million viewers.
For the week of Nov. 25-Dec. 1, the top 20 shows, their networks and viewerships:
1. NFL Football: New England at Houston, NBC, 21.45 million.
2. NFL Football: New Orleans at Atlanta, NBC, 20.81 million.
3. “NFL Pregame Show” (Sunday), NBC, 15.13 million.
4. “NFL Pregame Show, Part 2” (Thursday), NBC, 14.74 million.
5. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 12.53 million.
6. NFL Football: Baltimore at L.A. Rams, ESPN, 11.35 million.
7. “Football Night in America, Pt. 3,” NBC, 11.12 million.
8. “NCIS,” CBS, 11.05 million.
9. "NFL Pregame Show, Part 1' (Thursday), NBC, 9.99 million.
10. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 8.97 million.
11. “FBI,” CBS, 8.82 million.
13. “The Voice” (Tuesday), NBC, 7.87 million.
14. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 7.76 million.
15. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 7.34 million.
16. “Football Night in America, Pt. 2,” NBC, 7.07 million.
17. “Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Opry,” NBC, 7 million.
18. “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 6.87 million.
19. “Survivor,” CBS, 6.49 million.
20. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 6.42 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by Fox Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.