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Home / News / The Industry / ‘Sunday Night Football’ beats World Cup in television ratings

‘Sunday Night Football’ beats World Cup in television ratings

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By STEVEN HERBERT

In the latest unsurprising example of the NFL’s popularity and the gap that soccer has to close to catch up, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” drew more television viewers than either of last week’s two U.S. World Cup games on Fox, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.

The Dallas Cowboys’ 54-19 victory over the Indianapolis Colts averaged 18.132 million viewers, first among prime-time television programs airing between Nov. 28 and Sunday and seventh among the season’s 13 “Sunday Night Football” games.

Its total viewership — which also includes viewing on the Peacock streaming service, NBCSports.com and NBC Sports app — was 19.3 million viewers, topping 14 of the last 17 December or January “Sunday Night Football” games. Dallas broke open what had been a close game with 33 fourth- quarter points, matching the second-highest fourth-quarter total in NFL history.

An NFL program has been the most-watched program each week of the 11-week-old 2022-23 prime-time television season.

The U.S.’ 1-0 group play victory over Iran Nov. 29 that assured it a spot in the knockout round averaged 12.013 million viewers on Fox. The game averaged 959,004 viewers on streaming platforms, the most for a World Cup game in Fox Sports history.

Another 3.5 million watched the Spanish-language coverage on Telemundo, Peacock and other streaming platforms for a total audience of 16.472 million.

The Americans’ 3-1 loss to Netherlands in a round of 16 game Saturday averaged 12.966 million viewers on Fox. The streaming coverage averaged 596,850 viewers, the second-most streamed game of the tournament.

Spanish-language viewership figures were not available.

“60 Minutes” was the most-watched nonsports program for the ninth time in the season, averaging 10.464 million viewers, its third-highest total among its 12 editions of the season. (The CBS news magazine began its 55th season one day before the start of the season.)

Like the season’s two editions that drew more viewers, Sunday’s followed a runover of CBS’ afternoon NFL coverage into prime time in the Eastern and Central time zones, where the bulk of the nation’s population lives. The viewership figure for the 37-minute runover was not available. It is not considered a separate program but is included in the network weekly average.

“60 Minutes” was sixth for the week behind “Sunday Night Football” and its 10-minute pre-kickoff show; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”; Fox’s coverage of the Big Ten Football Championship Game; and the 17-minute third- segment of “Football Night in America” preceding the “Sunday Night Football” pre-kickoff show.

“Yellowstone” was the most-watched entertainment program for the fourth time in the four weeks its fifth season, averaging 8.441 million viewers on Paramount Network and CMT, seventh for the week.

With CBS airing reruns of each of the season’s four most-watched comedies, ABC’s “The Conners” was the week’s most-watched comedy, the first non-CBS program to accomplish the feat this season.

“The Conners” averaged 4.191 million viewers, 22nd for the week, 12th among nonsports programs and first among ABC programs.

The CBS drama “Fire Country” was the most-watched new series for the fifth time in its seven episodes, averaging 5.455 million viewers, 17th for the week and eighth among nonsports programs.

The combination of “Sunday Night Football” and four of the five most-watched entertainment programs made NBC the most-watched network for the ninth time in the season, averaging 5.68 million viewers.

The only weeks NBC did not win this season came when Fox aired coverage of the World Series.

NBC’s most-watched non-NFL program was the Tuesday edition of the singing competition “The Voice,” 10th for the week and third among nonsports programs, averaging 6.792 million viewers.

“Christmas in Rockefeller Center” was 11th, averaging 6.323 million viewers; the Monday edition of “The Voice” 12th, averaging 6.227 million and the made-for-television movie, “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas,” 13th, averaging 6.181 million.

CBS was second, averaging 4.38 million viewers. Fox was third, averaging 4.36 million viewers for its 17 hours of programming. ABC was fourth, averaging 3.03 million.

NBC, CBS and ABC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming

Fox’s most-watched program was Saturday’s Big Ten Football Championship Game, fourth for the week averaging 10.699 million viewers.

The procedural drama “9-1-1” was Fox’s most-watched nonsports program for the ninth time in its nine episodes of the season, averaging 4.956 million viewers, 19th for the week and 10th among nonsports programs.

The CW averaged 480,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming. Its most-watched program was the documentary on the 1992 tribute concert to the lead vocalist of the British rock band Queen, “Freddie Mercury: The Final Act,” which averaged 866,000 viewers, 127th among broadcast programming. Its overall ranking was not available.

The 20 most-watched prime-time programs consisted of two NFL games; four NFL pregame shows; two college football games on Fox; one college football pregame show; one college football postgame show; “60 Minutes”; “Yellowstone”; both episodes of the NBC singing competition “The Voice”; NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” and “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas”; two CBS scripted programs and its alternative series “Survivor”; and Fox’s “9-1-1.”

The most-watched cable program was the Nov. 28 broadcast of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 24-17 victory over Indianapolis on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” which averaged 10.864 million viewers, third for the week.

“Monday Night Football” made ESPN the most-watched cable network for the fifth time in six weeks, the eighth time in 10 weeks and 11th time in 14 weeks, averaging 2.259 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second, averaging 1.929 million viewers and Hallmark Channel third, averaging 1.338 million viewers.

MSNBC was the other cable network to average more than 1 million viewers for its prime-time programming, averaging 1.168 million viewers.

The cable top 20 consisted of “Monday Night Football” and its 13-minute kickoff show; “Yellowstone”; 11 Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows — five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and one of “The Ingraham Angle”; the premiere of the miniseries “George & Tammy” about country singing stars George Jones and Tammy Wynette, which aired on Paramount Network, Showtime and CMT; two Hallmark Channel movies; History’s long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island”; the MSNBC news and opinion program, “The Rachel Maddow Show”; and the 8 p.m. segment of USA Network’s professional wrestling program, “WWE Raw.”

“Wednesday” broke its own record for most hours viewed in a week for an English-language television series on Netflix with 411.29 million hours watched in the first full week of release, according to figures released by the streaming service.

Viewership was up 30.9% from the previous record, set a week earlier of 341.23 million hours for the eight episodes of the supernatural infused mystery charting Wednesday Addams’ years at Nevermore Academy when it was available for five days.

“The Noel Diary” was Netflix’s most-watched English-language movie, with viewers watching the romantic comedy-drama fantasy adventure for 27.63 million hours in its first full week of release, 23.8% less than the 36.27 million hours the previous week when it was available for five days and was second among English-language movies.

“Troll” set a record for most hours viewed for a non-English-language film, with viewers spending 75.86 million hours watching the Norwegian action-adventure film in the first four days it was available.

An episode of the Univision telenovela “Mi Camino Es Amarte” was the most-watched Spanish-language program for the second consecutive week, with the Nov. 28 episode averaging 1.552 million viewers, 75th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language television network for the 17th consecutive week and 155th time in 157 weeks, averaging 1.11 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 890,000, followed by UniMas (450,000), Estrella TV (80,000) and Azteca America (50,000).

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for 156th time in 157 weeks and 208th time in 210 weeks, averaging 8.834 million viewers. “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 7.272 million.

The “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell” was third, averaging 5.312 million viewers.

The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time television programs were NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and its 10-minute pre-kickoff show; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”; Fox’s coverage of the Big Ten Football Championship Game; the 17-minute third segment of NBC’s “Football Night in America”; “60 Minutes”; “Yellowstone”; the 16-minute Big Ten Football Championship Game kickoff show; 26-minute second segment of “Football Night in America”; and the Tuesday episode of “The Voice.”

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