With prime-time viewership of the four major television networks continuing to increase with much of the nation under stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus pandemic, “NCIS” drew the largest audience for a scripted program this season.
The CBS action drama averaged 13.196 million viewers, its most since Feb. 12, 2019, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen. It was the second time in three weeks and third time this season that “NCIS” has been the week’s most-watched program. “NCIS” is the only scripted program to top the weekly ratings during the 27-week-old 2019-20 prime-time television season.
The second-season crime drama “FBI,” which followed “NCIS,” averaged a series-high 10.691 million viewers for the start of a two-part crossover with “FBI: Most Wanted.” The conclusion of the crossover, which followed “FBI,” averaged 9.5 million viewers, the most among the week’s 10 p.m. programs, sixth overall and the highest among the nine “FBI: Most Wanted” episodes.
CBS also had last week’s only other program to average more than 10 million viewers, “60 Minutes,” which averaged 10.51 million viewers, third for the week. The newsmagazine has finished first two times, second twice and third once over the past five weeks.
CBS finished first for the seventh consecutive week and the 12th time in the season despite airing reruns for its entire prime-time schedule Thursday in place of its planned Sweet 16 coverage of the canceled NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.
CBS also had season-highs from “Hawaii Five-0” (8.44 million viewers), “Survivor” (8.19 million) and “MacGyver” (6.72 million) as it averaged 6.34 million viewers for its prime-time programming between March 23 and Sunday.
NBC was second for the second consecutive week following back-to-back third-place finishes, averaging 4.72 million viewers. ABC was third for the second consecutive week following back-to-back second-place finishes, averaging 4.66 million viewers.
Cable’s Fox News Channel was fourth among all networks, averaging 4.231 million viewers.
Fox was fifth overall, averaging 3.44 million viewers for its 15 hours of prime-time programming. It has finished fourth among the broadcast networks eight times in the eight weeks following its Super Bowl LIV telecast.
CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox News Channel each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
NBC’s most-watched program was “Chicago Med,” fourth for the week averaging 9.609 million viewers, its most since Dec. 1, 2015. “Chicago Fire,” which followed, averaged 9.208 million viewers, its most since Dec. 10, 2013, seventh for the week.
“Chicago PD,” which followed “Chicago Fire,” averaged 7.755 million viewers, its most for a non-crossover episode since Jan. 13, 2016. “Chicago PD” was second for the week among 10 p.m. programs and 12th overall.
NBC singing competition “The Voice” was first among alternative series for the fifth time in the five weeks of its spring season, averaging 9.575 million viewers, fifth overall. “The Voice” has been in the top five each week of its spring season.
NBC drama “Council of Dads,” the week’s only premiere, finished third in its 10 p.m. time slot March 24 and 66th overall, averaging 3.75 million viewers. It retained 47 percent of the audience of the season finale of “This Is Us,” which preceded it.
“This Is Us” averaged 7.984 million viewers, its most since last season’s finale, 11th for the week.
“American Idol” was ABC’s top-rated program for the sixth time in the seven weeks it has aired this season, averaging 7.321 million viewers, 13th for the week. Viewership was down 4.8 percent from its 7.692 million average the previous week, when it finished seventh.
“The Masked Singer” was Fox’s top-ranked show for the seventh time since the week of its Super Bowl telecast, averaging 8.03 million viewers, 10th overall. It averaged 8.022 million viewers the previous week, finishing fifth.
The combined viewership of the four major broadcast networks was 19.16 million viewers, up from 19.12 million the previous week and 18.06 million the week of March 9-15.
Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network for the 10th consecutive week, averaging 4.231 million viewers.
Fox News Channel had each of the week’s 15 top prime-time cable programs, topped by the Thursday episode of the political talk show “Hannity,” which featured an interview with President Donald Trump and averaged 5.634 million viewers, 29th overall.
“Hannity” averaged 5 million viewers for the week, the most in the history of the program, which premiered Jan. 12, 2009.
MSNBC was second for the fifth time in six weeks, averaging 2.32 million viewers. CNN was third, averaging 2.194 million viewers.
Viewership of advertising-supported cable networks also increased, averaging 40.606 million viewers, up from 40.56 million the previous week and 39.361 million the week of March 9-15.