By DAVID BAUDER, AP Media Editor
NEW YORK (AP) – NBC opened the new TV season with a dominant week against its rivals, and it wasn’t just football that was to blame.
The network’s Sunday Night Football franchise was by far the most-watched prime-time program last week, as it traditionally does every fall. But NBC said it was the first time it has won the first Fall TV Week in 20 years when only entertainment shows – not sports – are counted.
NBC’s Wednesday Night “Chicago” drama roster is powerful, especially for young viewers. The network also touted its new ‘Ordinary Joe’ series, which more than doubled its first-night audience when both deferred and digital viewing is factored in.
Longtime CBS frontrunner “NCIS” was the most popular scripted series of the week, the Nielsen Company said.
As Broadway shows just reopened after most were dark for over a year due to COVID-19, Sunday night’s Tony Awards surged in ratings with just 2.75 million viewers . The four-hour show was shared between CBS and streaming service Viacom Paramount +.
Total prime-time audiences on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox increased 16% from the same week last year, which should normally be cause for celebration. Still, because COVID-19 shut down TV production for much of last year, there was little fresh programming for the traditional first broadcast week, and this year things are back to normal.
NBC averaged 6.6 million viewers for the week in prime time, compared to an average of 4.4 million for CBS. Fox had 3.4 million, ABC 3 million, Univision 1.5 million, Telemundo 1.1 million, and Ion Television 920,000.
ESPN leads cable networks with an average of 2.66 million during prime time. Fox News Channel had 2.36 million, MSNBC 1.3 million, HGTV 958,000, and TLC 837,000.
ABC’s âWorld News Tonightâ topped the race for evening news ratings with an average of 8 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 6.7 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 4.8 million.
For the week of September 20-26, the 20 best prime-time shows, their networks and audiences:
1. NFL Football: Green Bay in San Francisco, NBC, 19.69 million.
2. âNFL Pregameâ (Sunday), NBC, 13.85 million.
3. NFL Football: Detroit at Green Bay, ESPN, 11.9 million.
4. “L’OT”, Fox, 10.02 million.
5. âFootball Night in America, Part 3â, NBC, 9.48 million.
6. “NCIS”, CBS, 8.45 million.
7. NFL Football: Caroline in Houston, NFL Network, 7.39 million.
8. âThe Voiceâ (Tuesday), NBC, 7.35 million.
9. âChicago Fire,â NBC, 7.28 million.
10. âThe Voiceâ (Monday), NBC, 7.22 million.
11. “60 minutes”, CBS, 7.2 million.
12. âFBIâ, CBS, 7.124 million.
13. âFBI: Most Wanted,â CBS, $ 7.119 million.
14. âChicago Med,â NBC, 6.81 million.
15. âNCIS: Hawai’i,â CBS, 6.58 million.
16. âChicago PDâ, NBC, 6.54 million.
17. âFBI: International,â CBS, 6.43 million.
18. âSurvivor,â CBS, $ 6.25 million.
19. âThe Sustainer,â NFL Network, $ 5.98 million.
20. âLaw & Order: SVUâ, NBC, 5.58 million.