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Football is the name of the game in Nielsen ratings race; ‘Don’t Look Up’ soars on Netflix

A man pushes a cart through a grocery store, followed by a man and a woman.
Jennifer Lawrence, left, Leonardo DiCaprio and Timothée Chalamet in “Don’t Look Up,” the most streamed movie on Netflix last week.
( Niko Tavernise / Netflix)

NFL programming accounted for 11 of the top 12 programs on a week with a record five nights of games and little first-run entertainment programming.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the ratings winner for the 12th time in the 14-week-old 2021-22 prime-time television season, with the Dallas Cowboys’ 56-14 victory over the Washington Football Team averaging 17.277 million viewers, ninth among the season’s 16 “Sunday Night Football” games, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Wednesday.

In addition to the weekly Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games, the NFL Network carried a customary late-season Saturday night game while Fox broadcast two games on a regional basis Tuesday that were rescheduled because of coronavirus issues.

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“60 Minutes” was the top-ranked non-sports program for the eighth time in the season, averaging 9.522 million viewers, sixth overall among prime-time broadcast and cable programs airing between Dec. 20 and Sunday.

“Yellowstone” was the highest-rated entertainment program for the fourth time in five weeks, averaging a combined 8.31 million viewers on Paramount Network and CMT. It placed ninth for the week behind four nights of NFL games, two NFL pregame shows, “60 Minutes” and Fox’s NFL postgame show Tuesday.

NBC won the network race for the sixth time in the season, averaging 4.24 million viewers. CBS was second, averaging 3.97 million viewers, followed by Fox, which averaged 3.85 million and ABC, which averaged 3.46 million.

NBC’s biggest audience for a non-NFL program was the Christmas Eve showing of the 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which averaged 3.4 million viewers, 23rd for the week and 10th among entertainment programs.

The CW averaged 430,000 viewers, and its biggest draw was the 2000 animated special “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” which averaged 600,000 viewers, 158th among broadcast programming, one spot behind the Monday rerun of the 1965-71 CBS comedy “Hogan’s Heroes” on Me TV.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of five NFL games; five NFL pregame shows; Fox’s NFL postgame show Tuesday; “60 Minutes”; “Yellowstone” and its origin story, “1883”; four CBS entertainment programs; ABC’s coverage of Saturday’s Lakers-Brooklyn Nets game; and ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

With ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” splitting its audience with ABC, NFL Network’s coverage of Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts-Arizona Cardinals game topped the cable rankings, ending “Monday Night Football’s’ 14-week winning streak, averaging 12.624 million viewers, fifth for the week.

ESPN was the top-rated cable network for the fifth time in eight weeks, averaging 2.194 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second after three first-place finishes in five weeks, averaging 1.828 million viewers. Hallmark Channel was third for the seventh consecutive week, averaging 1.245 million viewers.

The top 20 cable programs consisted of three NFL games; two NFL pregame shows and one postgame show; eight Fox News Channel political talk shows — four broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” three of “Hannity” and one of “The Ingraham Angle”; “Yellowstone”; “1883”; two college bowl games on ESPN; History’s long-running chronicle of the quest to solve the more than 2-century-old treasure mystery on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island”; and the Dec. 22 edition of the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

“Don’t Look Up” was the most-watched English-language film on Netflix last week according to figures released Tuesday by the streaming service. In its first three days of release, viewers spent 111.03 million hours watching the comedy about an approaching comet that will destroy Earth.

“The Unforgivable” was second, with 26.6 million hours after two first-place finishes.


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