TV Ratings: ‘Sunday Night Football’ sends NBC to the top

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes lifted the Kansas City Chiefs to a late win against the Las Vegas Raiders and helped NBC win the ratings week.
(Associated Press)

“Sunday Night Football” drew the largest audience for a prime-time program since the NFL Kickoff Game Sept. 10, helping NBC to its third consecutive weekly victory and fourth of the 9-week-old 2020-21 television season.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ 35-31 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders averaged 19.573 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.

The matchup between the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs and one of the NFL’s most popular teams included four fourth-quarter lead changes, with Travis Kelce catching the winning touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes with 28 seconds to play.

“Sunday Night Football” has had the highest ratings of any prime-time program for four consecutive weeks.


NFL programming accounted for each of the five top-rated programs between Nov. 16 and Sunday, followed by the season premiere of “NCIS,” on CBS, which averaged 10.394 million viewers, the most for a scripted program since its April 14 season finale.

“FBI,” which followed “NCIS,” drew the season’s second-largest audience for a scripted program, averaging 8.246 million viewers, 10th for the week, trailing seven NFL programs and “60 Minutes.”

The lone new series on the four major broadcast networks, the ABC thriller “Big Sky,” was second in its 10 p.m. time slot Tuesday, finishing 40th for the week, 27th among entertainment programs and fifth among programs beginning at 10 p.m., averaging 4.158 million viewers.

“Big Sky” retained 88.5% of the audience of the two-hour episode of “The Bachelorette” that preceded it, which averaged 4.698 million viewers.

NBC averaged 6.32 million viewers for the week, followed by Fox, which averaged 5.76 million viewers for its 17 hours, two minutes of prime-time programming. CBS was third, averaging 4.53 million, and ABC fourth, averaging 4.18 million.

Fox’s average was bolstered by a 49-minute runover of its afternoon NFL programming into prime time in the Eastern and Central time zones that averaged 27.18 million viewers.

NBC’s top-ranked non-football program was “Chicago Med,” 11th for the week, fourth among non-football programs and third among entertainment programs, averaging 7.877 million viewers.

Fox’s largest audience was for the Seattle Seahawks’ 28-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on “Thursday Night Football”; that placed second for the week, averaging 15.253 million viewers. Its most-watched non-football program was “The Masked Singer,” 17th for the week, 10th among non-football programs and ninth among entertainment programs, averaging 6.421 million viewers.

“Grey’s Anatomy” was ABC’s top-rated show, averaging 5.993 million viewers, 20th for the week, 12th among non-sports programs and 11th among entertainment programs.

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was the highest-rated cable program, with the Minnesota Vikings’ 19-13 victory over the Chicago Bears on Nov. 16 averaging 11.896 million, fifth for the week.

Fox News Channel won the cable network race for the 42nd time in 44 weeks, averaging 2.975 million viewers. ESPN was second, averaging 2.581 million viewers, and MSNBC was third, averaging 2.179 million.

“Schitt’s Creek” returned to the top of the streaming ratings among the four services measured after a one-week absence in the latest weekly report from Nielsen.

Viewers watched 1.058 billion minutes of the 80 episodes of the Emmy-winning comedy from Oct. 19-25 for its third first-place finish in four weeks. It finished second the previous week.

“The Office” was second, with viewers watching 869 million minutes of the 2005-13 NBC comedy. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” was third, with 838 million minutes watched, a week after the nine-episode Netflix horror series was first, with 1.821 billion minutes watched.

Viewers watched 570 million minutes of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” on Amazon Prime in its first three days of streaming, placing it eighth for the week. The film was the only entry in the top 10 streaming programs that was not on Netflix.