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U.S. World Cup games no match for NFL in TV ratings

Christian Pulisic of United States scores against Alireza Beiranvand of IR Iran
The U.S.’ Christian Pulisic scores the team’s first goal past Alireza Beiranvand of IR Iran during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match on Nov. 29 in Doha, Qatar.
(Stuart Franklin / Getty Images)
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In the latest unsurprising example of the NFL’s popularity and the gap that soccer has to close to catch up, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” drew more viewers than either of last week’s two U.S. World Cup games on Fox.

The Dallas Cowboys’ 54-19 blowout over the Indianapolis Colts averaged 18.13 million viewers, finishing first among prime-time programs airing between Nov. 28 and Sunday and seventh among the season’s 13 “Sunday Night Football” games, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday.

Its total viewership — which also includes viewing on the Peacock streaming service, NBCSports.com and NBC Sports app — was 19.3 million viewers, topping 14 of the last 17 December or January “Sunday Night Football” games.

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Dallas broke open what had been a close game with 33 fourth-quarter points, matching the second-highest fourth-quarter total in NFL history.

An NFL program has been at the top of the ratings each week of the 11-week-old 2022-23 prime-time television season.

The U.S.’ 1-0 group play victory over Iran Nov. 29 that assured it a spot in the knockout round averaged 12.01 million viewers on Fox. The game averaged 959,004 viewers on streaming platforms, the most for a World Cup game in Fox Sports history.

Another 3.5 million watched the Spanish-language coverage on Telemundo, Peacock and other streaming platforms for a total audience of 16.47 million.

The Americans’ 3-1 loss to Netherlands in a round of 16 Saturday averaged 12.97 million viewers on Fox. The streaming coverage averaged 596,850 viewers, the second-most streamed game of the tournament.

Spanish-language viewership figures were not available.

“60 Minutes” was the top-ranked non-sports program for the ninth time in the season, averaging 10.46 million viewers, its third-highest total among its 12 editions of the season. (The CBS news magazine began its 55th season one day before the start of the season.)

“60 Minutes” was sixth for the week behind “Sunday Night Football” and its pre-kickoff show; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”; Fox’s coverage of the Big Ten Football Championship Game; and the 17-minute third segment of “Football Night in America” preceding the “Sunday Night Football” pre-kickoff show.

“Yellowstone” was the highest-rated entertainment program for the fourth time in the four weeks of its fifth season, averaging 8.44 million viewers on Paramount Network and CMT, seventh for the week.

With CBS airing reruns of each of the season’s four most popular comedies, ABC’s “The Conners” was the first non-CBS program to lead the week’s ratings for comedies. “The Conners” averaged 4.19 million viewers, 22nd for the week, 12th among non-sports programs and first among ABC programs.

The CBS drama “Fire Country” led among the season’s new series for the fifth time in its seven episodes, averaging 5.46 million viewers, 17th for the week and eighth among non-sports programs.

The combination of “Sunday Night Football” and four of the five most-watched entertainment programs put NBC at the top of the network rankings for the ninth time in the season, averaging 5.68 million viewers.

NBC’s top non-NFL program was the Tuesday edition of the singing competition “The Voice,” 10th for the week and third among non-sports programs, averaging 6.79 million viewers.

“Christmas in Rockefeller Center” was 11th, averaging 6.32 million viewers; the Monday edition of “The Voice” 12th, averaging 6.23 million and the made-for-television movie “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas,” 13th, averaging 6.18 million.

CBS finished second, averaging 4.38 million viewers. Fox was third, averaging 4.36 million viewers. ABC was fourth, averaging 3.03 million.

Fox’s most-watched program was Saturday’s Big Ten Football Championship Game, fourth for the week averaging 10.7 million viewers.

The procedural drama “9-1-1” was Fox’s most-watched non-sports program for the ninth time in its nine episodes of the season, averaging 4.96 million viewers, 19th for the week and 10th among non-sports programs.

The CW averaged 480,000 viewers. Its biggest draw was “Freddie Mercury: The Final Act,” a documentary on the 1992 tribute concert to the lead vocalist of the British rock band Queen, which averaged 866,000 viewers, 127th among broadcast programming. Its overall ranking was not available.

The top 20 most-watched prime-time programs consisted of two NFL games; four NFL pregame shows; two college football games on Fox; one college football pregame show; one college football postgame show; “60 Minutes”; “Yellowstone”; both episodes of the NBC singing competition “The Voice”; NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” and “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas”; two CBS scripted programs and its alternative series “Survivor”; and Fox’s “9-1-1.”

The Nov. 28 broadcast of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 24-17 victory over Indianapolis on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” which averaged 10.864 million viewers, third for the week, at topping the cable rankings.

“Monday Night Football” made ESPN the most popular cable network for the fifth time in six weeks, the eighth time in 10 weeks and 11th time in 14 weeks, averaging 2.26 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second, averaging 1.93 million viewers and Hallmark Channel third, averaging 1.34 million viewers.

MSNBC was the only other cable network to average more than 1 million viewers for its prime-time programming, averaging 1.17 million viewers.

The cable top 20 consisted of “Monday Night Football” and its 13-minute kickoff show; “Yellowstone”; 11 Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows (five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and one of “The Ingraham Angle”); the premiere of the miniseries “George & Tammy” about country singing stars George Jones and Tammy Wynette, which aired on Paramount Network, Showtime and CMT; two Hallmark Channel movies; History’s long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island”; the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show”; and the 8 p.m. segment of USA Network’s professional wrestling program, “WWE Raw.”

“Wednesday” broke its own record for most hours viewed in a week for an English-language television series on Netflix with 411.29 million hours watched in the first full week of release, according to figures released by the streaming service.

Viewership was up 30.9% from the previous record, set a week earlier of 341.23 million hours for the eight episodes of the supernatural-infused mystery charting Wednesday Addams’ first year at Nevermore Academy when it was available for five days.

“The Noel Diary” was Netflix’s most-streamed English-language movie, with viewers watching the romantic comedy-drama fantasy adventure for 27.63 million hours in its first full week of release, 23.8% less than the 36.27 million hours the previous week when it was available for five days and was second among English-language movies.

“Troll” set a record for most hours viewed for a non-English-language film, with viewers spending 75.86 million hours watching the Norwegian action-adventure film in the first four days it was available.


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