Chiefs-Bengals game ignites viewership for ‘Fire Country’ and boosts CBS ratings

Zach Tinker and Stephanie Arcila sitting on the ground wearing fire fighting gear in "Fire Country" on CBS.
Zach Tinker and Stephanie Arcila in “Fire Country” on CBS.
(Sergei Bachlakov / CBS)

Sunday’s episode of “Fire Country” on CBS drew the largest audience for a scripted series episode since the April 6, 2021, episode of “NCIS,” 10.082 million viewers.

The first-season drama, which followed coverage of the AFC championship game, finished third among prime-time broadcast and cable programs airing between Jan. 23 and Sunday, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC championship game averaged 53.124 million viewers, the most for an NFL conference championship since Jan. 20, 2019, when the New England Patriots’ 37-31 overtime victory over the Chiefs averaged 53.918 million viewers. The viewership for the 2019 game did not include out-of-home viewing, which Nielsen began including in its ratings figures in September 2020.


The AFC championship game also drew television’s largest audience since NBC’s telecast of Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022. The “Fire Country” episode followed the 21-minute AFC championship game postgame show, which averaged 24.326 million viewers.

The combination of the AFC championship game and having each of the six most popular non-sports programs and nine of the top 11 made CBS the most-watched network for the first time in the 19-week-old 2022-23 prime-time television season, averaging 11.81 million viewers.

ABC was second, averaging 2.82 million, and NBC third, averaging 2.73 million.

CBS’ top program outside of its Sunday programming was “NCIS,” fourth for the week, averaging 7.536 million viewers.

CBS had the highest rated comedy for the 17th time in the season, with “The Neighborhood” averaging 6.411 million viewers, sixth for the week.

“Celebrity Jeopardy!” was ABC’s ratings leader, finishing 17th, averaging 4.435 million viewers.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” was NBC’s top ranked program, finishing ninth for the week, averaging 5.774 million viewers.


The third episode of NBC’s revival of “Night Court” was 14th for the week, 12th among non-sports programs and third among comedies, averaging 5.175 million viewers, 31.5% less than the 7.544-million average for its premiere a week earlier, which was the most for a comedy premiere since ABC’s “The Conners” averaged 10.567 million viewers on Oct. 16, 2018.

Fox averaged 1.87 million viewers. The third season premiere of “9-1-1: Lone Star” was its top rated program, finishing 23rd and averaging 3.922 million viewers.

The second episode of the crime anthology “Accused” was Fox’s third highest ranked and 54th among the week’s broadcast and cable programs, averaging 2.448 million viewers. Its premiere Jan. 22 following the San Francisco 49ers-Dallas Cowboys NFL divisional round playoff game averaged 8.705 million viewers, the most for a premiere since CBS’ “The Equalizer” averaged 20.404 million viewers following the Super Bowl LV postgame show on Feb. 7, 2021.

The CW averaged 460,000 viewers. Its biggest draw for the second consecutive week was the crime drama “Walker,” which averaged 757,000 viewers, 144th among broadcast programs. Its overall ranking was not available.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of the AFC championship game and its 21-minute postgame show; nine CBS scripted programs and “The Price Is Right at Night”; four NBC scripted programs and “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars”; and the ABC alternative programs “Celebrity Jeopardy!” and “Shark Tank” and its scripted series “The Rookie.”

The five editions of the Fox News Channel political talk show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” were the top five prime-time cable programs, led by the Wednesday edition, which averaged 3.508 million viewers, 28th overall.


Fox News Channel won the prime-time cable network race, averaging 2.069 million viewers. MSNBC was second, averaging 1.042 million, and HGTV third, averaging 914,000.

The cable top 20 consisted of 13 Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows (five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and three of “The Ingraham Angle”); all three hourlong segments of the USA Network professional wrestling program “WWE Raw”; 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”; the Hallmark Channel movie “Love in Glacier National: A National Park Romance”; and ESPN’s coverage of the Kansas-Kentucky college basketball game.

The movie “You People” was Netflix’s most-streamed program, with viewers spending 55.65 million hours watching the romantic comedy in the first three days it was available, according to figures released by the streaming service Tuesday.

The second season of “Ginny & Georgia” was Netflix’s most popular television program for the fourth time in the four weeks it has been available, with viewers spending 55.61 million hours watching its 10 episodes.