Baseball boosts TBS, NFL gives ESPN a kick and streamers love ‘Squid’
Three National League Championship Series games kept TBS in the lead in the cable network race in prime time for the second consecutive week while NBC finished first among broadcast networks.
TBS averaged 3.064 million viewers for its prime-time programming between Oct. 18 and Sunday, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday. The series accounted for three of the week’s six most-watched prime-time cable programs, topped by the Dodgers’ season-ending 4-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 on Saturday, which averaged 6.949 million viewers, second among cable programs and 13th overall.
The game drew the largest audience for a Game 6 of a National League Championship Series since 2016, when the Chicago Cubs’ 5-0 victory over the Dodgers on Fox Sports 1, which averaged 9.706 million viewers.
The six-game NLCS averaged 5.2 million viewers, the most for any championship series since the 2018 American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, which also aired on TBS.
ESPN finished second among cable networks for the second consecutive week after three consecutive first-place finishes, averaging 2.928 million viewers. Fox News Channel averaged 2.306 million viewers to finish third for the second week after three consecutive second-place finishes.
“Monday Night Football” was the top-ranked cable program for the sixth time in six 2021 regular-season broadcasts, with the Tennessee Titans’ 34-31 victory over the Buffalo Bills on ESPN Oct. 18 averaging 12.53 million viewers, third overall.
MSNBC finished fourth for the third consecutive week after three straight third-place finishes, averaging 1.171 million viewers, followed by Hallmark Channel (1.11 million), TNT (920,000), HGTV (894,000) and TLC (790,000).
The season’s first three “Countdown to Christmas” movies boosted Hallmark Channel’s viewership 54.8% from its 717,000 average the previous week, when it finished seventh.
CNN finished ninth for the second consecutive week, with a 12.1% increase in viewership from 647,000 to 725,000.
The top 20 cable programs consisted of “Monday Night Football” and its 14-minute pregame show; three National League Championship Series games; three American League Championship Series games and the ALCS Game 5 postgame show on Fox Sports 1; Saturday’s Alabama-Tennessee college football game on ESPN; nine Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and four of “Hannity”; and TNT’s coverage of the Lakers-Golden State Warriors NBA game.
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” topped the overall ratings for the fifth time in the 5-week-old 2021-22 television season and sixth time in the 7-week-old NFL season, averaging 16.113 million viewers for the Indianapolis Colts’ 30-18 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
One week after its first second-place finish of the season, NBC returned to the top of the network ratings, averaging 5.79 million viewers. CBS was second, averaging 5.11 million, a week after finishing first.
Fox was third for the third consecutive week and fourth time in the season, averaging 4.04 million viewers.
ABC was fourth among the broadcast networks for the third consecutive week and fourth time in the season, averaging 3.40 million viewers. The CW averaged 452,000 viewers.
A seven-minute NFL postgame show averaged 11.403 million viewers, fifth for the week. The postgame show was followed on CBS in the Eastern and Central time zones, where the bulk of the nation’s population lives, by “60 Minutes,” which averaged 10.524 million viewers, first among non-NFL programs for the fourth consecutive week and sixth overall.
“The Equalizer” followed “60 Minutes” and drew the week’s largest audience among entertainment programs, 7.811 million viewers, eighth overall and second among non-NFL programs.
CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the highest-rated comedy for the third consecutive week, averaging 6.358 million viewers, 17th overall and ninth among non-NFL programs.
“NCIS: Hawai’i” was the top-rated new series for the second time in the season, averaging 5.325 million viewers, 25th overall and 17th among non-NFL programs.
The biggest audience for a program beginning at 10 p.m. was for the CBS police drama “Blue Bloods,” which averaged 6.051 million viewers, 18th overall and 10th among non-NFL programs.
The week’s only premiere on the five major English-language broadcast networks, the ABC drama “Queens,” averaged 1.751 million viewers, 68th among the week’s broadcast programs.
NBC’s highest-ranked non-NFL program for the second consecutive week was “Chicago Fire,” 11th overall and fourth among non-NFL programs, averaging 7.359 million viewers.
Fox’s ratings leader was the Denver-Cleveland “Thursday Night Football” game, which averaged 12.993 million viewers, second for the week. Its top non-NFL program was the procedural drama “9-1-1,” which averaged 5.282 million viewers, 27th overall and 19th among non-NFL programs.
“Dancing With the Stars” was ABC’s biggest draw for the third consecutive week, averaging 5.018 million viewers, 33rd overall and 25th among non-NFL programs.
The CW’s highest-ranked program for the fourth consecutive week was the magic competition series “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” which was 160th among broadcast programs, averaging 649,000 viewers.
The top 20 prime-time broadcast programs consisted of three NFL games, four NFL pregame shows and one postgame show; Game 6 of the NLCS; Game 6 of the ALCS; “60 Minutes”; five CBS scripted programs; and four NBC entertainment programs.
“Squid Game” was the most streamed program in its first full week of release, with viewers spending 1.91 billion minutes watching the nine-episode South Korean survival drama the week of Sept. 20-26.
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