Football helps CBS score another win as ‘The Crown’ rules streaming viewership

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in her wedding gown in "The Crown."
Emma Corrin stars as Princess Diana in the fourth season of Netflix’s “The Crown.”

A longer-than-usual NFL runover, “60 Minutes” and the Southeastern Conference championship game combined to give CBS its second ratings victory of the 13-week-old 2020-21 prime-time television season.

CBS averaged a season-high 6.18 million viewers for its prime-time programming between Dec. 14 and Sunday, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen. NBC averaged 5.27 million viewers to finish second for the second consecutive week following five consecutive victories.

Fox was third, averaging 4.07 million viewers a week after finishing first. ABC was fourth for the second consecutive week, averaging 3.53 million viewers.


CBS had been in third place behind Fox and NBC through Friday but moved into the top spot with its coverage of Alabama’s 52-46 victory over Florida in Saturday’s SEC Championship, which averaged 8.921 million viewers, seventh for the week behind three NFL games; “60 Minutes”; NBC’s nine-minute “Sunday Night Football” pre-kickoff show; and Fox’s six-minute NFL postgame show.

The hourlong runover of CBS’ Sunday afternoon NFL coverage into prime time, mainly the Kansas City Chiefs’ 32-29 victory over the New Orleans Saints, averaged 25.256 million viewers.

CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes,” which followed the overrun, averaged 11.585 million, fourth for the week. It had the biggest audience for any non-NFL program for the fourth consecutive week.

CBS also had the week’s highest-rated scripted program with the comedy “Young Sheldon,” 13th overall and fourth among entertainment programs, averaging 6.862 million viewers. The CBS police drama “Blue Bloods” was the week’s top-ranked 10 p.m. program and placed first on Friday, averaging 6.383 million viewers, 14th overall and fifth among entertainment programs.

CBS’ other first-place finish this season came during the week of Oct. 5-12, when its programming included a prime-time NFL game.

Fox’s season finale of “The Masked Singer” had the most viewers of all entertainment programs, finishing eighth overall, averaging 7.412 million viewers.


NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the highest-rated program for the eighth consecutive week, with the Cleveland Browns’ 20-6 victory over the New York Giants averaging 15.61 million viewers, 8.5% less than the 17.053-million average for the Buffalo Bills’ 26-15 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers the previous Sunday.

The Chargers’ 30-27 overtime victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” was second for the week, averaging 12.962 million viewers.

The top-ranked cable program was the Baltimore Ravens’ 47-42 victory over Cleveland on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” which averaged 12.422 million viewers and finished third.

The top three cable networks finished in the same order as in the previous two weeks. Fox News Channel was first for the 45th time in 48 weeks, averaging 2.382 million viewers. ESPN was second, averaging 2.071 million, and MSNBC third, averaging 1.997 million.

In the first full week that its fourth season was available, “The Crown” became the first program to have more than 3 billion minutes watched in a week since the superhero series “The Umbrella Academy” in August, according to figures released by Nielsen on Thursday.

From Nov. 16-22 viewers watched 3.358 billion minutes of the 40 episodes of the Netflix series about the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II.


The 10-episode fourth season, released Nov. 15, accounted for two-thirds of “The Crown’s” viewership, but its first season was the second-most watched for the week, illustrating how a new season release attracts viewers to revisit or check out a series.

Nearly two-thirds of the viewership of “The Crown” is among viewers age 55 and older.

“The Queen’s Gambit” was second with 1.092 billion minutes watched. The seven-episode Netflix miniseries starring Anya Taylor-Joy as a female chess prodigy had finished first each of the previous three weeks.

The 2005-13 NBC comedy “The Office” was third after four consecutive second-place finishes, with 1.067 billion minutes watched of its 192 episodes.

“The Mandalorian” was fourth after three consecutive third-place finishes, with 939 million minutes watched of its 12 episodes, including the fourth episode of its second season, which became available Nov. 20.

The Disney+ “Star Wars” series was the only non-Netflix program in the top 10 for the third consecutive week.