‘Sunday Night Football’ rushes to another TV ratings win; ‘Yellowstone’ is big too

Kevin Costner wearing a cowboy hat, jeans and boots while lounging on a chair next to a tent in the woods
Kevin Costner in Yellowstone
(Cam McLeod / Paramount Network)

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the top-rated program for the 10th time in the 12-week-old 2021-22 prime-time television season, while “60 Minutes” was the highest rated non-NFL program and “Yellowstone” the drew the biggest audience of any entertainment program.

The Green Bay Packers’ 45-30 victory over the Chicago Bears averaged 18.563 million viewers, 6% more than the 17.507 million average for the Kansas City Chiefs’ 22-9 victory over the Denver Broncos the previous Sunday, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday.

CBS’ “60 Minutes” averaged 9.315 million viewers, fifth overall.

The Paramount Network neo-western “Yellowstone” averaged 7.537 million viewers, seventh overall.

CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the top-ranked comedy for the 10th consecutive week, averaging 6.958 million viewers, fifth among non-sports programs and 11th overall. CBS also had the top-rated new series, “FBI International,” 10th among non-NFL programs and 17th overall, averaging 5.791 million viewers.

The CBS police drama “Blue Bloods” had the highest rating for programs beginning at 10 p.m. for the fifth time in six weeks and eighth time in the season, averaging 5.759 million viewers, 11th among non-NFL programs and 18th overall.


The combination of three of the four top scripted programs — “NCIS,” “FBI” and “Young Sheldon” — NFL coverage and “60 Minutes enabled CBS to edge NBC, 5.94 million-5.89 million to win the network race for the third time in the season.

Fox finished third, averaging 4.54 million viewers. ABC was fourth, averaging 2.79 million. The CW averaged 510,000.

The premiere of the ABC comedy “Abbott Elementary” was fourth in its 9:30-10 p.m. time slot, 51st among non-NFL programs and 58th overall, averaging 2.876 million viewers. It followed ABC’s ratings leader, “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” whose re-creations of “The Facts of Life,” and “Diff’rent Strokes” averaged 4.798 million viewers, 30th for the week and 23rd among non-NFL programs.

The crime drama “Walker” was the CW’s biggest draw for the sixth time in seven weeks, averaging 981,000 viewers, 117th among broadcast programs.

The 20 most watched prime-time programs consisted of three NFL games, four NFL pregame shows, “60 Minutes,” seven CBS entertainment programs, four NBC entertainment programs and “Yellowstone.”

“Monday Night Football” was the most-watched cable program for the 13th time in 13 2021 regular-season broadcasts, with the New England Patriots’ 14-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills Dec. 6 averaging 13.282 million viewers, third, overall.

ESPN was was at the top of the cable networks for the fourth time in six weeks, averaging 2.491 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second, averaging 2.302 million viewers, one week after its second first-place finish in three weeks.

Hallmark Channel was third for the fifth consecutive week, averaging 1.574 million viewers. MSNBC averaged 1.123 million viewers to finish fourth for the fifth time in six weeks following a fifth-place finish.


CNN tied for 15th with AMC, averaging 577,000 viewers. CNN also trailed Paramount Network (894,000), HGTV (881,000), Freeform (876,000), TBS (789,000), TLC (775,000), Food Network (752,000), TNT (748,000), History (697,000), Discovery (692,000) and Lifetime (598,000).

The top 20 cable programs consisted of “Monday Night Football” and its 14-minute pregame show; “Thursday Night Football” on NFL Network; “Yellowstone”; 14 Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and four of “The Ingraham Angle”; the Hallmark Channel “Countdown to Christmas” movie “A Royal Queens Christmas”; and History’s long-running chronicle of the quest to solve the more than two-century-old treasure mystery on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island.”

“The Unforgivable“ was last week’s most-streamed English-language film on Netflix in its first three days of release while the third season of “Lost In Space” was the top English-language television program for the second consecutive week.

Viewers spent 85.86 million hours watching the Sandra Bullock-starring post-incarceration drama, according to figures released by the streaming service Tuesday. “Red Notice” rose one spot to second with 18.01 million hours watched between Dec. 6 and Sunday, its fifth week of release. Viewership for the action comedy dropped 29.1% from the 25.4 million hours watched the previous week.