TV ratings for 1st NFL prime-time games go in opposite directions
By STEVEN HERBERT
Official viewership for the NFL Kickoff game was down 19.6% from last year while “Sunday Night Football” drew its largest audience for a season opener since 2015, with the Dallas Cowboys factoring into both figures, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Rams’ 31-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday in the most one-sided NFL Kickoff game since 2013 averaged 19.939 million viewers. The 31-29 loss by the Cowboys, long one of the NFL’s most popular teams, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last year’s NFL Kickoff game, which was decided by Ryan Succop’s 36-yard field goal with two seconds to play, averaged 24.813 million viewers, its largest official audience since 2016.
The total audience for Thursday’s game, which includes streaming viewership on Peacock, NBC Sports and NFL digital platforms was 21.7 million viewers, according to Adobe Analytics figures provided by NBC.
NBC has televised the NFL Kickoff game annually since 2006.
Dallas’ 19-3 loss to the Buccaneers on “Sunday Night Football” averaged 23.296 million viewers, a 32.1% increase over the 17.639 million average for last year’s “Sunday Night Football” opener, the Rams’ 34-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.
The total audience was 25 million, the most for a “Sunday Night Football” opener since 2015, when the Cowboys’ 27-26 victory over the New York Giants drew 26.9 million viewers. The broadcast audience was the largest for a “Sunday Night Football” opener since 2017, when Dallas’ 19-3 victory over the Giants averaged 24.366 million.
Both the NFL Kickoff game and “Sunday Night Football” opener drew the largest prime-time audiences since NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage on Feb. 13 averaged 21.277 million viewers following the Super Bowl LVI postgame show.
Sunday’s premiere of Fox’s country music drama “Monarch” following its NFL coverage averaged 4.034 million viewers, 17th among the prime-time broadcast and cable programs airing between Sept. 5 and Sunday, sixth among nonsports programs.
“Monarch’s” 0.9 rating among viewers age 18-49, the group Fox targets, was the highest for the premiere of a scripted series since April 1, 2021, when NBC’s “Law & Order: Organized Crime” drew a 1.6 rating.
The most-watched nonsports prime-time program was “60 Minutes,” which averaged 7.853 million viewers for a previously broadcast report on New York City firefighters sent to rescue victims of the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center.
“60 Minutes” was eighth for the week behind the two NFL games, four NFL pregame shows, and Fox’s 13-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT.”
The two NFL games gave NBC the weekly largest audience for any network since Feb. 14-20, its final week of coverage of the Winter Olympics. NBC’s most-watched nonsports program was the 121-minute edition of “America’s Got Talent” last Tuesday, which averaged 6.115 million viewers, 11th for the week and second among non-sports programs.
CBS was second, averaging 3.1 million viewers, which includes the 22-minute rundown of its afternoon NFL coverage into prime time in the Eastern and Central time zones, where the bulk of the nation’s population lives. The runover averaged 15.83 million viewers. It is not considered a separate program.
ABC was third, averaging 2.79 million viewers. “Celebrity Family Feud” was ABC’s most-watched program for the 10th time in the 11 weeks since the conclusion of the network’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Final, averaging 4.161 million viewers, 15th for the week and fourth among nonsports programs.
NBC, CBS and ABC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
Fox averaged 2.67 million viewers for its 15 hours, 32 minutes of prime-time programming, including a 20.496 million average for its 32-minute NFL runover. Fox’s most-watched program was its 13-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT,” which averaged 10.044 million viewers, sixth for the week.
The CW averaged 330,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming, topped for the second consecutive week by the 8:30 p.m. Sunday rerun of “World’s Funniest Animals,” which averaged 549,000 viewers, 166th among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.
The 20 most-watched prime-time programs consisted of the two NFL games; five NFL pregame shows; two NFL postgame shows; two ESPN college football games; “60 Minutes”; two episodes of “America’s Got Talent”; the Sunday and Wednesday episodes of the CBS alternative series “Big Brother”; the ABC alternative programs, “Celebrity Family Feud” and “The $100,000 Pyramid”; “Monarch”; and a rerun of CBS’ “FBI.”
The most-watched cable program was ESPN’s coverage of Clemson’s 41-10 victory over Georgia Tech Sept. 5, which averaged 4.859 million viewers, 13th for the week.
The combination of the U.S. Open tennis tournament and college football made ESPN the most-watched cable network for the second consecutive week, averaging 2.675 million viewers. Fox News Channel averaged 1.983 million viewers to finish second for the second consecutive week following 12 consecutive first-place finishes.
MSNBC averaged 995,000 for its second consecutive third-place finish after seven consecutive second-place finishes.
The cable top 20 consisted of three college football games on ESPN and one on ESPN2; ESPN’s coverage of Friday’s U.S. Open semifinals; 11 Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows — five broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” four of “Hannity” and two of “The Ingraham Angle”; the three hour-long segments of USA Network’s professional wrestling program, “WWE Raw”; and the HBO fantasy drama “House of the Dragon.”
The fifth season of “Cobra Kai” was Netflix’s most-watched program, with viewers spending 106.7 million hours watching the 10 episodes of the martial arts comedy-drama the first three days they were available, according to figures released Tuesday by the streaming service.
Netflix’s most-watched movie was “End of The Road,” with viewers watching the Queen Latifah-starring road trip movie for 30.21 million hours the first three days it was available.
The most-watched Spanish-language program was the Tuesday episode of the Univision telenovela “Los Ricos También Lloran,” which averaged 1.433 million viewers, 66th among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the fifth consecutive week and 143rd time in 145 weeks, averaging 1.14 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 870,000, followed by UniMas (440,000), Estrella TV (120,000) and Azteca America (50,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for the 144th time in 145 weeks and 196th time in 198 weeks, averaging 7.348 million viewers. “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 6.243 million.
The “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell” was third, averaging 4.451 million.
Figures for all three newscasts excluded their Labor Day broadcasts.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” its coverage of the NFL Kickoff game, 11-minute “Sunday Night Football” prekickoff show, the 12-minute prekickoff show immediately preceding the NFL Kickoff game and its 18-minute third segment of “Football Night in America”; Fox’s 13-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT”; an 11-minute pregame show preceding the NFL Kickoff game prekickoff show; “60 Minutes”; CBS’ eight-minute NFL postgame show; and the 26-minute second segment of “Football Night in America.”