NFL playoffs boost NBC’s game

A player cradling a football dives above another player.
The Jan. 16 Dallas Cowboys-Tampa Bay Buccaneers face-off helped give NBC the largest weekly viewership of any network during the 17-week-old 2022-23 television season.
(Peter Joneleit / Associated Press)

NBC’s coverage of Sunday’s Cincinnati Bengals-Baltimore Ravens NFL wild-card playoff game drew the largest prime-time audience for any program since Super Bowl Sunday — customary for a Sunday night wild-card game — but was surpassed one day later by the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bengals’ 24-17 victory averaged 26.87 million viewers, the most for a prime-time program since NBC’s 15-minute Super Bowl LVI postgame show averaged 54.065 million viewers on Feb. 13, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Wednesday. Viewership on Peacock and NFL digital properties boosted the audience to 28.6 million.

The simulcast of Monday’s night’s Dallas-Tampa Bay playoff game averaged 31.2 million viewers on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 and was ABC’s largest audience for an NFL playoff game outside of Super Bowls.


Sunday’s broadcast viewership was down 7.1% from the 28.935 million average for last season’s Sunday prime-time wild-card game, the Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. That game was also the highest prime-time program since its preceding Super Bowl Sunday.

“NCIS” led all non-sports prime-time programs between Jan. 9 and Sunday, averaging 7.927 million viewers, seventh behind two NFL games, two NFL pregame shows, ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Playoff title game and Fox’s 11-minute NFL postgame show. The episode began a crossover with the two other elements of the CBS franchise, which accounted for three of the week’s six top rated non-sports programs. “NCIS: Hawai’i” which followed, was third among non-sports programs, averaging 7.357 million viewers, ninth overall. “NCIS: Los Angeles” averaged 6.804 million viewers, sixth among non-sports programs, 12th overall and first among programs beginning at 10 p.m., when broadcast television viewing is customarily lower.

Two prime-time NFL playoff games gave NBC the largest weekly viewership of any network during the 17-week-old 2022-23 television season, averaging 9.57 million viewers, topping the previous high of 8.31 million by Fox the week of Oct. 31-Nov. 6, when it aired 19 hours of prime-time programming, including four World Series games. NBC has finished first 14 times this season.

CBS was second, averaging 4.96 million viewers. Fox was third, averaging 4.2 million viewers and ABC was fourth, averaging 2.43 million viewers.

“Chicago Fire” was NBC’s leading non-sports program, averaging 6.844 million viewers, 11th for the week and fifth among non-sports programs.

NBC’s coverage of the Golden Globe Awards was the network’s third highest non-sports program of the week despite averaging 6.253 million viewers, its smallest audience since returning to NBC in 1996. The previous low was 6.913 million viewers for the 2021 ceremony. The 2022 ceremony was not televised after an outcry over diversity and ethical standards in the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which conducts the awards.


The Golden Globe Awards were 16th for the week.

Fox’s highest rated prime-time program was its NFL postgame show, which averaged 17.692 million viewers, fourth for the week. Its top non-NFL program was “Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test,” which followed the postgame show and averaged 3.629 million viewers, 36th for the week and 29th among non-sports programs.

“The Conners” was ABC’s ratings leader, averaging 4.148 million viewers, 31st for the week, 24th among non-sports programs and third among comedies.

CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the top ranked comedy for 12th time in the season, averaging 7.198 million viewers, 10th for the week, fourth among non-sports programs. Each of the show’s 10 first-run episodes have been their week’s most-watched comedy.

The CBS drama “Fire Country” led all first-season programs for the ninth time, averaging 5.953 million viewers, 19th for the week and 12th among non-sports programs.

The week’s only premiere on the five major broadcast networks was the CBS game show “Lingo,” which was 45th for the week. “Lingo” retained 64.3% of the audience of “The Price Is Right at Night,” which preceded it, and averaged 4.793 million viewers, 27th for the week and 20th among non-sports programs.

The CW averaged 500,000 viewers. Its biggest draw was Sunday’s Critics Choice Awards, which averaged 910,000 viewers, 120th among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.


The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of two NFL games; three NFL pregame shows; one NFL postgame show; ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Playoff title game; nine CBS scripted programs and “60 Minutes”; NBC’s “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago Med” and its coverage of the Golden Globe Awards.

The College Football Playoff title game topped the cable rankings, averaging 16.627 million viewers, fifth for the week. Viewership for Georgia’s 65-7 victory over Texas Christian University on Jan. 9 in a game the Bulldogs led 38-7 at halftime was down 25.3% from the 22.257-million average for the previous year’s game, a 33-18 victory by Georgia over Alabama in which the Bulldogs trailed 9-6 at halftime.

ESPN won the cable network battle for the fifth consecutive week and 10th time in 12 weeks, averaging 2.922 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second, averaging 2.16 million and MSNBC third, averaging 976,000.

The cable top 20 consisted of ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Playoff title game; 13 Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows (five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and three of “The Ingraham Angle”); History’s long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island”; the Hallmark Channel movie “The Wedding Veil Inspiration”; the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show”; the TLC dating series “90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?”; and two hourlong segments of the USA Network professional wrestling program “WWE Raw.”

The second season of “Ginny & Georgia” was Netflix’s most-streamed television program for the second consecutive week, with viewers spending 162.72 million hours watching the 10 episodes in the first full week they were available, according to figures released by the streaming service Tuesday. Viewership was down 9.8% from the 180.47 million hours watched the previous week when the episodes of the dramedy were available for four days.

The mystery thriller about an 1830 murder at the U.S. Military Academy, “The Pale Blue Eye,” was Netflix’s most popular movie, with 39.86 million hours watched in its first full week of release, 7.2% less than the 42.96 million hours watched the previous week when it was available for three days.


“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” dropped to third behind “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker” after back-to-back first-place finishes.