The Country Music Assn. Awards drew ABC’s largest audience of the eight-week-old 2019-20 prime-time television season, helping the network avoid finishing fourth for the first time this season, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.
The three-hour ceremony averaged 11.28 million viewers last Wednesday, seventh among prime-time broadcast and cable programs airing between Nov. 11 and Sunday and third among non-NFL programs.
The celebration of the legacy of women in country music hosted by Carrie Underwood, with Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton billed as special guest hosts, was among the rare programs whose viewership increased from a year ago, rising 11.7% from last year’s average of 10.1 million.
ABC’s previously most-watched program of the season was “The Wonderful World of Disney presents the Little Mermaid Live!” which averaged 9.02 million viewers Nov. 5.
The highest-rated NFL game this season helped propel “60 Minutes” to its largest audience in 11 months, lifting CBS to the highest-ranked network for the second time this season. The news magazine averaged 13.20 million viewers, its most since Dec. 16, 2018, when it averaged 14.55 million viewers, to finish fourth for the week behind three NFL games.
The 49-minute game runover was part of the highest-rated NFL game telecast this season, with Sunday’s late-afternoon national game window averaging a 14.0 rating. The New England Patriots’ 17-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles aired in most of the nation.
In a rarity, a cable program got the week’s highest rating, with the Seattle Seahawks’ 27-24 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” Nov. 11 averaging 16.95 million viewers, its largest audience since Nov. 19, 2018, when the L.A. Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs averaged 16.89 million viewers.
The Rams’ 17-7 victory over the Chicago Bears on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football’ was second for the week, averaging 16.85 million viewers, its smallest audience since Oct. 13 when the L.A. Chargers’ 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers averaged 14.89 million viewers.
CBS had four of the five most-watched non-NFL programs to win the network ratings race, averaging 6.87 million viewers. NBC averaged 6.24 million viewers to finish second, a week after its third victory of the season. ABC was third, averaging 5.6 million. Fox was fourth, averaging 4.86 million viewers for its 17 hours of prime-time programming. CBS, NBC and ABC each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
CBS’ “NCIS” was the scripted program with the most viewers for the eighth time this season, averaging 11.66 million, sixth overall. CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the highest-ranked comedy for the seventh time in the seven weeks it has aired an original episode, averaging 9.1 million viewers, 10th overall.
“The Unicorn” was the highest-rated new series, averaging 5.64 million viewers, 32nd overall. CBS has had the new series with the highest ratings each week of the season.
Fox was first among viewers ages 18-49 for the seventh consecutive week thanks to “Thursday Night Football” and “The Masked Singer,” averaging 1.77 million viewers among the group it, NBC and ABC targets and advertisers covet.
NBC was second, averaging 1.73 million, followed by ABC, which averaged 1.34 million and CBS, which averaged 1.27 million.
“Thursday Night Football” was third among the group, averaging 5.92 million and “The Masked Singer” 10th, averaging 2.13 million.
ESPN was the top-ranked cable network for the second consecutive week, averaging 3.17 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second, averaging 2.75 million. MSNBC was third, averaging 1.96 million.