• Sunday Night Football Returns to Top of TV Ratings

    HOLLYWOOD (CNS) – NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” returned to top of the prime-time television ratings last week following a one-week absence, while CBS was the most-watched network for the third time in the three-week-old season.

    An average of 19.92 million viewers watched the Green Bay Packers’ 42-24 victory over the previously undefeated Houston Texans, according to live-plus- same-day figures released today by Nielsen.

    The audience was the largest for a prime-time NFL game against a Major League Baseball League Championship Series game since Oct. 14, 1996, when an ABC “Monday Night Football” game between the San Francisco 49ers and Packers averaged 26.5 million viewers.

    It was also the largest viewership for a Week 6 game in the seven seasons that “Sunday Night Football” has aired on NBC.

    CBS had nine of the 21 most-watched programs, including the most-viewed entertainment program, comedy and new series, and averaged 9.67 million viewers for its prime-time programming between Oct. 8 and Sunday.

    “NCIS” was the week’s most-watched entertainment program, finishing second overall with 18.51 million viewers, one week after it was the most- watched program.

    “The Big Bang Theory” was the most-watched comedy for the third time this season, averaging 14.23 million viewers, finishing fifth overall.

    “Vegas” was the most-watched new series for the third time in three weeks, averaging 11.78 million viewers, finishing 14th overall. It was the only new series among the week’s 30 most-watched programs.

    In a week when ABC, CBS and NBC each lost two hours of their regular prime-time programming and Fox one hour because of coverage of Thursday’s vice presidential debate, NBC finished second, averaging 8.14 million viewers. ABC was third (7.95 million), followed by Fox (6.07 million).

    The debate was not counted in the prime-time averages because it did not include commercials, but post-debate analysis programs were included because they had commercials.

    ABC’s “Nashville” was the winner over NBC’s “Chicago Fire” in a match-up of 10 p.m. Wednesday drama premieres. “Nashville” averaged 8.93 million viewers, finishing 31st for the week, 19 spots ahead of “Chicago Fire,” which averaged 6.61 million.

    NBC was most watched network among viewers ages 18-49, who ABC and Fox also target and advertisers covet because they watch less television and are harder to reach.

    This was the first time NBC has been first with that group for the first three weeks of the television season since 2002, when its schedule included “Friends,” “Frasier,” “ER” and “The West Wing.”   ”Sunday Night Football” finished first in the category, followed its nine- minute kickoff show and the 9:31 p.m. Wednesday episode of the ABC comedy “Modern Family.”

    The 9 p.m. Wednesday episode of “Modern Family” and the Monday episode of the NBC singing competition “The Voice” tied for fourth in the category among broadcast programming.

    The ESPN “Monday Night Football” game between the New York Jets and Houston Texans was the week’s most-watched cable television program and sixth overall, averaging 14.05 million viewers — the eighth largest audience for a cable television program in 2012.

    Postseason baseball coverage made TBS the most-watched cable network, averaging 4.35 million viewers.

    Postseason baseball games accounted for four of the 10 most-watched prime-time cable programs, topped by Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees, which averaged 6.85 million viewers to finish fourth among the week’s prime-time cable programs.

    The season premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” on Sunday averaged 10.87 million viewers, the most for a drama on basic cable, second among the week’s prime-time cable programming and 18th for the week.

    The Tuesday episode of the Univision telenovela “Abismo de Pasion” (“Abyss of Passion”) was the week’s most-watched Spanish-language program, averaging 4.97 million viewers, putting it 67th among all prime-time broadcast and cable programs.

    As usual, Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network, averaging 3.68 million viewers for its prime-time programming, followed by Telemundo (1.1 million), TeleFutura (650,000), Estrella TV (230,000) and Azteca America (110,000).

    NBC had the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 161st consecutive week and 208th time in the past 209 weeks, averaging 7.72 million viewers, followed by ABC (7.22 million) and CBS (6.05 million). CBS’ figure does not include Thursday because of preemptions and schedule changes due to the vice presidential debate.

    The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”; CBS’ “NCIS”; NBC’s nine-minute “Sunday Night Football” kickoff show; CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “The Big Bang Theory”; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”; ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and “Dancing with the Stars: The Results Show”; the Monday edition of NBC’s “The Voice”; and the 9:31 p.m. Wednesday episode of ABC’s “Modern Family.”

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