Baseball playoffs hit home run for TBS in ratings race; NFL still tops the list as CBS wins the week

Dodgers catcher Will Smith and Giants first baseman Wilmer Flores.
L.A. Dodgers catcher Will Smith calls for an appeal to the first base umpire on a check swing by Giants first baseman Wilmer Flores in game five of the NLDS at Oracle Park.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Five Dodgers telecasts boosted TBS to the top of the cable network prime-time race last week while CBS led the broadcast networks for the first time in the 4-week-old 2021-22 television season.

TBS averaged 3.103 million viewers for its prime-time programming between Oct. 11 and Sunday, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday.

The final three telecasts of the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants and the first two games of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves were all among the week’s top 20 prime-time cable programs. The Dodgers’ 2-1 victory in Game 5 of the NLDS Thursday averaged 6.5 million viewers, second among cable programs and 14th overall.

“Monday Night Football” had the highest ratings for any cable program for the fifth time in its five 2021 regular-season broadcasts, with the Baltimore Ravens’ 31-25 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on ESPN Oct. 11 averaging 11.335 million viewers, fourth overall.


ESPN was second among cable networks after three consecutive first-place finishes, averaging 2.499 million viewers. Fox News Channel averaged 2.264 million viewers to finish third.

CNN averaged 647,000 viewers, landing in ninth place, one spot lower than the previous week. MSNBC was fourth, averaging 1.168 million viewers, followed by HGTV (924,000), TLC (788,000), Hallmark Channel (717,000) and Food Network (650,000).

In addition to the three NLDS games, two NLCS games and “Monday Night Football,” the top 20 cable programs consisted of the 13-minute “Monday Night Football” pregame show; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Philadelphia Eagles “Thursday Night Football” game on NFL Network; Game 4 of the American League Division Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays on Fox Sports 1; the Alabama-Mississippi State college football game on ESPN; eight Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” three of “Hannity” and last Tuesday’s edition of “The Ingraham Angle” — and the Wednesday broadcast of the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the top-ranked program for the fourth time in the television season and fifth time in the 6-week-old NFL season, averaging 16.278 million viewers for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 23-20 overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Following second-place finishes behind NBC in each of the first three weeks of the season, CBS was first, averaging 6.15 million viewers. NBC was second, averaging 5.57 million. Fox was third for the second consecutive week and third time in the season, averaging 4.9 million viewers.

ABC was fourth for the second consecutive week and third time in the season, averaging 3.46 million viewers. The CW averaged 450,000 viewers.

CBS’ “60 Minutes” averaged 11.02 million viewers, first among non-NFL programs for the third consecutive week and fifth overall.

The CBS action drama “NCIS” finished first among entertainment programs for the fourth time in the season, averaging 7.658 million viewers, ninth overall and second among non-NFL programs.

CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the top-ranked comedy for the second consecutive week, averaging 6.537 million viewers, 16th overall and ninth among non-NFL programs. CBS’ “FBI: International” was the most-watched new series for the second consecutive week, averaging 5.626 million viewers, 22nd overall and 15th among non-NFL programs.


The biggest audience for a program beginning at 10 p.m. was the NBC crime drama “Chicago P.D.” which averaged 5.984 million viewers, 19th overall and 12th among non-NFL programs.

The week’s only premiere on the five major English-language broadcast networks, the NBC alternative series “Home Sweet Home,” averaged 1.409 million viewers, 93rd among the week’s broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

NBC’s leading non-NFL program was “Chicago Fire,” 11th overall and fourth among non-NFL programs, averaging 7.25 million viewers.

Fox’s ratings leader was the Philadelphia-Tampa Bay “Thursday Night Football” game, which averaged 14.417 million viewers, second for the week. Its most-watched non-NFL program was Game 1 of the American League Championship Series Friday, which averaged 6.135 million viewers, 18th for the week and 11th among non-NFL program.

The procedural drama “9-1-1” was Fox’s top non-sports program for the fourth consecutive week, averaging 5.253 million viewers, 29th overall and 22th among non-NFL programs.

“Dancing With the Stars” was ABC’s biggest draw for the second consecutive week, averaging 4.615 million viewers, 37th overall and 30th among non-NFL programs.

The CW’s ratings leader for the third consecutive week was the magic competition series “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” which was 156th among broadcast programs, averaging 736,000 viewers. Its overall rank was not available.

The week’s top 20 prime-time network programs consisted of three NFL games, three NFL pregame shows and one postgame show; Game 5 of the Dodgers-Giants National League Division Series; Game 1 of the American League Championship Series; “60 Minutes” and five CBS scripted programs and five NBC entertainment programs.

“Lucifer” rose one spot to the top of the list of most-streamed programs in the first full week that its 10-episode final season was available on Netflix, with viewers spending 1.588 billion minutes watching the 93 episodes of the urban fantasy from Sept. 13-19, 51% more than the 1.052 billion minutes watched the previous week, which included the first three days the final season was available.