Politics and pigskin played a key role in determining the primetime ratings race last week, with ABC, CBS and NBC all having reason to cheer. The Alphabet and Peacock tied for the lead among young adults, but the Eye was close behind while winning the popular vote as usual.
That left Fox on the outside looking in, finishing a distant fourth one week after the end of the World Series and football helped it top its rivals in key demos.
Meanwhile, in a big week for election news, Fox News drew the most viewers in cable, with CNN running second and MSNBC fifth.
Overall for the Nov. 3-9 frame, according to “live plus same day” national estimates from Nielsen, NBC and ABC both claimed a share of the lead among adults 18-49 (3.2 rating/8 share), followed by CBS (3.0/8), Fox (2.3/6), Univision (1.6/4) and ESPN (1.2/3).
ABC and CBS tied for the week’s lead in adults 25-54 (3.9/9), and CBS drew the most viewers overall for a sixth straight frame (11.04 million).
NBC may have drawn weak showings from first-year shows like “Knight Rider” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 5.12m) and “Crusoe” (1.0/3, 4.20m), but its “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles was the week’s No. 1 program in 18-49 (6.7/16 in 18-49, 17.56m) — logging one of the franchise’s best scores of the season.
The Peacock also received a significant boost on Monday from its two-hour Election Eve “Saturday Night Live: Presidential Bash” spec (5.6/13 in 18-49, 14.44m) and placed a close second on Election Night (4.3/9, 12.10m).
When all the Nielsen precincts were counted, ABC carried Election Night (4.5/10, 13.23m), ending NBC’s recent run of success on the night.
Elsewhere, ABC claimed the week’s top two entertainment series in “Grey’s Anatomy” (6.0/14 in 18-49, 15.74m) and “Desperate Housewives” (5.9/13, 15.85m) — both up week to week. “Dancing With the Stars” (3.9/9, 17.09m) and “Brothers and Sisters” cracked the top 20 as well.
Also notable were best-since-premiere scores for the Alphabet dramas “Private Practice” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 9.17m) and rookie “Life on Mars” (2.9/8, 8.71m).
The Alphabet was a dominant No. 1 on Saturday with college football (2.8/9 in 18-49, 8.48m for split national coverage of Texas Tech-Oklahoma State and USC-California).
CBS got a big boost from an NFL overrun (8.8/26 in 18-49, 26.36m from 7 to 7:26 p.m.) but performed weakly on Election Night (2.3/5 in 18-49, 7.41m). At least the news division was repped better on Sunday as “60 Minutes,” airing behind football, posted a rare finish as the week’s most-watched program overall (18.47 million).
Among entertainment skeins, Monday laffers “The Big Bang Theory” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 9.67m) and “How I Met Your Mother” (4.1/10, 9.40m) achieved season highs, with “Big Bang Theory” hitting another peak on Monday of the current week (prelim 3.9/10 in 18-49, 10.0 million).
Also, “CSI” (5.1/12 in 18-49, 18.18m) and “Two and a Half Men” (4.6/10, 12.76m) were in the week’s top 10, and Friday’s “Ghost Whisperer” (2.8/9, 10.89m) drew its best numbers of the season.
Fox, without a football overrun on Sunday and top dramas “House” and “Fringe” on Tuesday, had a quiet week led by “Family Guy” (4.2/9, 8.47m) and “The Simpsons” (3.8/10, 8.01m). “Bones” also remains a solid midweek player (3.3/9, 10.17m).
CW was able to match its year-ago 18-34 average despite its embarrassingly low numbers Sunday for repeats of its lineup, which averaged just 600,000 viewers. A standout performer was “Smallville” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.46m), which hit season highs on Thursday, and “America’s Next Top Model” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 3.82m) matched its season high in 18-34 (2.5/8).
MyNetwork set another network record with “WWE Friday Night Smackdown,” which averaged 3.68 million viewers. In adults 18-49, it edged out NBC (1.2/4 to 1.1/3) from 8 to 10 p.m. for a second straight week.