World Series, ‘Thursday Night Football’ score big ratings on Fox


While viewership for the first five games of the World Series was the second-lowest on record, it was 23% higher than last year’s record low and all but one of the games drew the largest audience for its night.

Fox’s coverage of the five games between Atlanta and the Houston Astros averaged 11.3 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday. The first five games of the 2020 Series between the Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays averaged 9.184 million viewers.

Houston’s 9-5 victory Sunday had the most viewers of the World Series games, averaging 13.644 million viewers to finish third among prime-time programs airing between Oct. 25 and Sunday behind Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” and NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” ended the six-week ratings-leading streak of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” with the Green Bay Packers’ 24-21 victory over the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals averaging 20.264 million viewers.

The audience was the third-largest in the four seasons Fox has aired the package, behind the Nov. 29, 2018, game between the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints that averaged 21.395 million viewers and the 2020 Christmas afternoon game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings that averaged 20.391 million viewers.

The combination of five World Series games and “Thursday Night Football” gave Fox the largest prime-time audience for any network since the week of July 26-Aug. 1, the first full week of NBC’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics.

Fox averaged 11.93 million viewers as it devoted all but two of its 21 hours of prime-time programming to either World Series or NFL programming.

NBC was second for the week, averaging 5.43 million, followed by CBS, which averaged 3.94 million, and ABC, which averaged 3.54 million. The CW averaged 490,000 viewers.

CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the week’s highest rated non-sports program, the first comedy to achieve that feat in the 6-week-old 2021-22 prime-time television season, averaging 7.231 million viewers, 14th overall and first among CBS programming.

CBS also had the top-ranked new series, the comedy “Ghosts,” which averaged 5.764 million viewers, 22nd for the week and eighth among non-sports programs.

The NBC crime drama “Chicago P.D.” had the biggest audience of any program beginning at 10 p.m. for the second time in three weeks, averaging 5.621 million viewers, 23rd overall and ninth among non-sports programs.

“Sunday Night Football” finished second for the week and first among NBC programming, averaging 15.68 million viewers for Dallas’ 20-16 victory over Minnesota. NBC’s non-sports ratings leader was Monday’s edition of “The Voice,” 17th for the week and third among non-sports programs, averaging 6.918 million viewers.

ABC’s biggest draw was “Saturday Night Football,” 16th for the week, with Ohio State’s 33-24 victory over Penn State averaging 7.051 million viewers. ABC’s leading non-sports program was “Dancing With the Stars,” 29th for the week and 14th among non-sports programs, averaging 4.844 million viewers.

The CW’s highest-ranked program was the Season 2 premiere of crime drama “Walker,” which averaged 954,000 viewers, 115th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

The 20 most-watched prime-time programs consisted of the five World Series games and the Game 5 pregame show; three NFL games; three NFL pregame shows; Fox’s 20-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT”; ABC’s “Saturday Night Football”; four NBC entertainment programs; and CBS’ “Young Sheldon” and “60 Minutes.”

“Monday Night Football” led all cable programs for the seventh time in seven 2021 regular-season broadcasts, with New Orleans’ 13-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks averaging 11.191 million viewers, eighth overall.

Fox News Channel averaged 2.208 million viewers to win the cable network race after back-to-back third-place finishes that followed three consecutive second-place finishes. ESPN averaged 2.17 million viewers to finish second for the third consecutive week after three straight first-place finishes.

Hallmark Channel rose two spots to third with the second week of its 2021 “Countdown to Christmas” movies, averaging 1.281 million viewers, 15.4% higher than its 1.11 million average the previous week.

CNN finished 12th after back-to-back ninth-place finishes, with viewership dropping 19.3% from 725,000 to 585,000. MSNBC finished fourth for the fourth straight week after three consecutive third-place finishes, averaging 1.109 million viewers, followed by HGTV (857,000) TLC (779,000), Discovery (698,000), TBS (649,000), Food Network (619,000), USA Network (615,000) and Lifetime (608,000).

The top 20 cable programs consisted of “Monday Night Football” and its 13-minute pregame show; 13 Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” five of “Hannity” and three of “The Ingraham Angle”; two broadcasts of the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show”; two Hallmark Channel “Countdown to Christmas” movies; and ESPN’s coverage of Saturday’s Auburn-Mississippi college football game.

“Squid Game” was the most-streamed program for the second consecutive week and the first in more than 10 months to surpass the 3-billion-minute mark in weekly viewership on the five streaming services for which Nielsen reports figures.

Viewers spent 3.26 billion minutes watching the nine-episode South Korean survival drama the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 3 — 41.4% more than the 1.91 billion minutes watched the previous week, its first full week of release on Netflix.

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