Football maintains TV rankings dominance, as does ‘Yellowstone’

Sandra Bullock and Rob Morgan in “The Unforgivable.”
“The Unforgivable” was the top movie streaming on Netflix the week of Dec. 13. Sandra Bullock and Rob Morgan star.

The neo-western “Yellowstone” was the top-ranked non-NFL prime-time program for the third time in four weeks, averaging a combined 8.465 million viewers on Paramount Network and CMT, ninth among programs airing between Dec. 13 and Sunday.

The Kevin Costner series trailed three NFL games, four NFL pre-game shows and Fox’s NFL postgame show, “The OT,” according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.

Three other non-NFL prime-time programs averaged more than 7 million viewers during the week — the CBS crime drama “FBI,” 10th for the week averaging 8.309 million viewers, the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes,” 11th, averaging 7.939 million viewers, and the Dec. 13 edition of the NBC singing competition “The Voice,” 12th averaging 7.275 million.


NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the highest-rated program for the 11th time in the 13-week-old 2021-22 prime-time television season with the New Orleans Saints’ 9-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers averaging 18.061 million viewers.

Viewership dropped 2.7% from the 18.563-million average for the previous week’s “Sunday Night Football” game, a 45-30 victory by the Green Bay Packers over the Chicago Bears that averaged 18.563 million viewers.

Sunday’s two-network premiere of the “Yellowstone” origin story “1883” was the week’s most popular new series, averaging 5.586 million viewers on Paramount Network and CMT combined, 16th for the week and seventh among non-NFL programs.

Despite airing a rerun, CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the most-watched comedy for the 11th consecutive week, averaging 4.428 million viewers, 21st for the week and 11th among non-NFL programs.

The two-hour, 24-minute “Survivor” season finale on CBS averaged 5.605 million viewers and was 17th for the week, eighth among non-NFL programs. The 36-minute “Survivor” after-show retained 71.3% of viewers, 3.996 million, which was the biggest audience for any program beginning at 10 p.m. or later It finished 24th, 14th among non-NFL programs.

The combination of “Thursday Night Football,” another hour of NFL programming on Sunday and the absence of 10 p.m. non-sports programming put Fox at the top of the network ratings for the fifth time in the season, all in the past eight weeks, averaging 5.7 million viewers.


NBC was second, averaging 5.09 million, followed by CBS, which averaged 3.83 million, and ABC, which averaged 3.54 million. The CW averaged 490,000 viewers.

Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” telecast of the Chargers’ 34-28 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was second for the week, averaging 17.863 million viewers. Fox’s top-ranked non-NFL program was the season finale of “The Masked Singer,” ninth among non-NFL programs and 18th overall, averaging 5.077 million viewers.

ABC’s portion of the simulcast of the Rams-Arizona Cardinals “Monday Night Football” game Dec. 13 was its ratings leader, averaging 7.973 million viewers. The game was responsible for increasing ABC’s viewership 26.9% from its 2.79 million average the previous week.

ABC’s top non-NFL program was the fall finale of “Station 19,” 10th among non-NFL programs and 21st overall, averaging 4.688 million viewers.

The pilot episode of the NBC comedy “American Auto” was second in its 10-10:30 time slot Dec. 13 behind “Monday Night Football,” averaging 2.95 million viewers, tying for 45th overall and 35th among non-NFL programs.

The premiere of another NBC comedy, “Grand Crew,” was fifth in its 8-8:30 p.m. time slot Dec. 14, averaging 2.352 million viewers, 64th for the week and 54th among non-NFL programs.


The superhero series “The Flash” had the CW’s biggest audience, averaging 717,000 viewers, 153rd among broadcast programs.

The 20 most watched prime-time programs consisted of four NFL games; five NFL pre-game shows; Fox’s 23-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT”; “60 Minutes”; three CBS entertainment programs; two episodes of NBC’s “The Voice”; Fox’s “The Masked Singer”; ABC’s “Station 19”; “Yellowstone” and “1883.”

Despite splitting its audience with ABC, ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was the most-watched cable program for the 14th time in 14 2021 regular-season broadcasts, with the Rams’ 30-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals averaging 7.925 million viewers.

Fox News Channel won the cable network race for the third time in five weeks, averaging 2.195 million viewers. ESPN was second, averaging 1.886 million viewers after four first-place finishes in six weeks.

Hallmark Channel finished third for the sixth consecutive week, averaging 1.477 million viewers. MSNBC averaged 1.303 million viewers to finish fourth for the sixth time in seven weeks following a fifth-place finish.

CNN was 16th, averaging 650,000 viewers, one week after tying for 15th with AMC, averaging 577,000 viewers. CNN also trailed Paramount Network (1.067 million), Freeform (877,000), HGTV (868,000), TBS (882,000), Food Network (782,000), TLC (774,000), TNT (744,000), Discovery (713,000) History (729,000), USA Network (685,000) and Lifetime (679,000).


The top 20 cable programs consisted of three NFL games; two NFL pregame shows; nine Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” three of “Hannity” and one of “The Ingraham Angle”; “Yellowstone”; “1883”; the Hallmark Channel “Countdown to Christmas” movie “‘Tis the Season to be Merry”; 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 Dec. 15 edition of the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show”; and TNT’s coverage of the Golden State Warriors-New York Knicks game Dec. 14 at which Golden State guard Stephen Curry set the NBA career 3-point basket record.

“The Unforgivable” was the most-watched English-language film on Netflix for the second consecutive week, according to figures released Tuesday by the streaming service.

Viewers spent 74.44 million hours watching the Sandra Bullock-starring post-incarceration drama between Dec. 13 and Sunday, its first full week of release.

Viewership was down 13.3% from the 85.86 million hours watched during its first three days of release the previous week.

The animated comedy “Back to the Outback” rose one spot to second with 38.99 million hours watched in its first full week of release. Viewership was up 141.1% from the 16.17 million hours watched the previous week, when it was available for three days.