NBC Dominates in Premiere Week for TV's Broadcast Networks

NBC's Wednesday night slate of “Chicago” dramas is potent, particularly for younger viewers

CHICAGO MED -- "Be The Change You Want To See" Episode 703 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nick Gehlfuss as Dr. Will Halstead, Guy Lockard as Dr. Dylan Scott --
George Burns Jr/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

NBC opened the new television season with a dominant week against its rivals, and it wasn't just football that was responsible.

The network's Sunday night football franchise was by far last week's most-watched prime time program, as it traditionally is each fall. But NBC said it was the first time it won television's fall premiere week in 20 years when only entertainment programming — and not sports — is taken into account.

NBC's Wednesday night slate of “Chicago” dramas is potent, particularly for younger viewers. The network also touted its new series “Ordinary Joe,” which more than doubled its premiere night audience when delayed and digital viewing is taken into account.

CBS' long-running favorite “NCIS” was the week's most popular scripted series, the Nielsen company said.

With Broadway shows just opening up again after most were dark for more than a year because of COVID-19, Sunday night's Tony Awards tanked in the ratings with just 2.75 million viewers. The four-hour show was split between CBS and Viacom streaming service Paramount+.

Total prime-time viewership on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox was up 16% over the same week last year, which would ordinarily be cause for celebration. Yet because COVID-19 shut down television production for much of last year, there was little fresh programming for the traditional broadcast premiere week, and this year things were back to normal.

NBC averaged 6.6 million viewers for the week in prime time, compared to second-place CBS' 4.4 million average. Fox had 3.4 million, ABC had 3 million, Univision had 1.5 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and Ion Television had 920,000.

ESPN led the cable networks with a prime-time average of 2.66 million. Fox News Channel had 2.36 million, MSNBC had 1.3 million, HGTV had 958,000 and TLC had 837,000.

ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race with an average of 8 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 6.7 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 4.8 million.

For the week of Sept. 20-26, the top 20 prime-time shows, their networks and viewerships:

1. NFL Football: Green Bay at San Francisco, NBC, 19.69 million.

2. “NFL Pregame” (Sunday), NBC, 13.85 million.

3. NFL Football: Detroit at Green Bay, ESPN, 11.9 million.

4. “The OT,” Fox, 10.02 million.

5. “Football Night in America, Part 3,” NBC, 9.48 million.

6. “NCIS,” CBS, 8.45 million.

7. NFL Football: Carolina at Houston, NFL Network, 7.39 million.

8. “The Voice” (Tuesday), NBC, 7.35 million.

9. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 7.28 million.

10. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 7.22 million.

11. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 7.2 million.

12. “FBI,” CBS, 7.124 million.

13. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 7.119 million.

14. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 6.81 million.

15. “NCIS: Hawai'i,” CBS, 6.58 million.

16. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 6.54 million.

17. “FBI: International,” CBS, 6.43 million.

18. “Survivor,” CBS, 6.25 million.

19. “The Sustainer,” NFL Network, 5.98 million.

20. “Law & Order: SVU,” NBC, 5.58 million.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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