Tune-in soars as Tom Brady takes on his former team on NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady evades a tackle attempt and throws a football.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws during the second half of the NFL’s “Sunday Night Football” on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)

Tom Brady’s first game against his former team topped the week’s ratings and drew “Sunday Night Football’s” second-largest audience ever. The most-watched non-NFL program for the second week of the 2021-22 prime-time television season was “60 Minutes.”

NBC’s coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 19-17 victory over the New England Patriots averaged 26.747 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen. The only “Sunday Night Football” game to average a larger audience was Washington’s 28-18 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 30, 2012, which decided the NFC East title and ended Dallas’ season; it averaged 30.28 million viewers.

“Sunday Night Football” has aired on NBC since 2006 after being carried by ESPN from the 1987 through 2005 seasons and TNT from 1990 through 1997.


“60 Minutes” enjoyed its largest audience since Jan. 17, averaging 10.321 million viewers, sixth among prime-time broadcast and cable programs airing between Sept. 27 and Sunday, behind two NFL games, two NFL pregame shows and an NFL postgame show.

The “60 Minutes” broadcast followed a 34-minute runover of CBS’ afternoon NFL coverage into prime time in the Eastern and Central time zones, where the bulk of the nation’s population lives; the runover averaged 23.36 million viewers.

“NCIS” was the highest-rated entertainment program for the second consecutive week, averaging 8.055 million viewers, eighth overall; it was the only entertainment program to average more than 8 million viewers. The viewership of the CBS action drama was down 4.7% from the 8.451 million average for its 19th season premiere a week earlier.

The only premiere on the five major English-language broadcast networks, the NBC epic adventure “La Brea,” averaged 6.373 million viewers, first in its 9 p.m. Tuesday time slot, eighth among non-NFL programs and 16th overall. It retained 85.7% of the audience of “The Voice,” which preceded it.

The Tuesday episode of “The Voice” averaged 7.435 million viewers, first in its 8 p.m. Tuesday time slot, third among non-NFL programs and 10th overall. It was NBC’s biggest audience for a non-NFL program.

NBC was first for the second time in the young season, averaging 7.53 million viewers. CBS finished second, averaging 5.25 million viewers, and ABC was third, averaging 3.67 million.

Fox averaged 2.07 million viewers and The CW averaged 390,000.

The week’s top 20 prime-time programs consisted of three NFL games, four NFL pregame shows and an NFL postgame show; six NBC entertainment programs — two episodes of “The Voice,” all three “Chicago” series and “La Brea”; and CBS’ “60 Minutes,” four scripted programs and “Survivor.”

ABC’s ratings leader was the season premiere of the action drama “Station 19,” 27th for the week averaging 5.04 million viewers.


Fox’s biggest draws were its six-minute NFL postgame show, which averaged 11.982 million viewers, fifth for the week, and the procedural drama “9-1-1,” 24th for the week, averaging 5.453 million viewers.

The CW’s top-rated show was Friday’s season premiere of the magic competition series “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” which was 157th among broadcast programs, averaging 665,000 viewers. Its overall rank was not available.

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game Sept. 27 led prime-time cable ratings and was fourth overall, averaging 12.901 million viewers for the Cowboys’ 41-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

ESPN won the cable network race for the second consecutive week, averaging 2.779 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second for the second consecutive week after 11 consecutive first-place finishes, averaging 2.258 million viewers.

MSNBC was third for the third consecutive week, averaging 1.194 million viewers.

CNN finished 10th, two places lower than the previous week.

“Clickbait” topped Nielsen’s latest list of streamed programs, with viewers spending 1.46 billion minutes watching the eight-episode miniseries Aug. 30-Sept. 5.