In TV ratings, ‘Sunday Night Football’ and college bowl games win big

The San Franciso 49ers’ win over the Seattle Seahawks lifted NBC's "Sunday Night Football" to the top of the weekly ratings.
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The final “Sunday Night Football” game of the season drew the fourth-largest audience of the 14-week-old 2019-20 prime-time television season.

The San Francisco 49ers’ 26-21 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, which was not decided until Seattle tight end Jacob Hollister was tackled on the San Francisco 1-yard line with nine seconds to play, averaged 22.846 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.

The only programs with larger audiences this season were the New Orleans Saints’ 12-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football” Sept. 29 (24.108 million), Fox’s coverage of Game 7 of the World Series (23.217 million) and the Minnesota Vikings’ 28-24 victory over the Cowboys Nov. 10 (22.988 million).


“Sunday Night Football” is expected to be the highest-rated prime-time program for the ninth consecutive season, extending its own record. Its 17 telecasts averaged 19.974 viewers. The CBS action drama “NCIS” is second for the season, averaging 15.258 million viewers.

The week’s top ranked non-sports program was the “60 Minutes” broadcast with three medical-related segments, averaging 8.12 million viewers, ninth overall. The newsmagazine began a half-hour later than usual in the Eastern and Central time zones because of CBS’ late-running NFL coverage.

In a week with little original entertainment programming due to the holiday, the entertainment program that drew the biggest audience was “The Price Is Right at Night: A Holiday Extravaganza with Seth Rogen,” on CBS, which averaged 5.886 million viewers, 12th overall.

The premiere of the dating series “Flirty Dancing” was 16th among non-sports programs and 29th overall, averaging 3.46 million viewers, most among Fox’s non-sports programs.

College football bowl coverage made ESPN the top-ranked network overall, averaging 6.309 million viewers. Its coverage of Saturday’s prime-time College Football Playoff semifinal between Clemson and Ohio State was second among programs airing between Dec. 23 and Sunday, averaging 20.393 million viewers.

Viewership for Clemson’s 28-23 victory was up 10.3% from the 18.494 million average for last year’s prime-time semifinal, Alabama’s 45-34 victory over Oklahoma where the Crimson Tide took a 28-0 lead 16 minutes, 59 seconds into the game.


NBC was second for the week, averaging 5.6 million, followed by CBS, which averaged 3.75 million, ABC, which averaged 3 million, and Fox, which averaged 2.62 million for its 15 hours of programming.

ABC’s top rated program was the Lakers-Clippers Christmas Day game which averaged 6.997 million viewers, 10th overall, behind two NFL games; three NFL pregame or postgame shows; the College Football Playoff semifinal and its two pregame shows; and “60 Minutes.”

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

Fox News Channel was second among cable networks, averaging 1.715 million viewers and Hallmark Channel third, averaging 1.54 million.