Winning weekend performances from an NFL playoff game and a Democratic presidential primary debate helped cap another first-place demo finish for NBC last week as the net continued its strong 2015-16 season.

The Peacock won in adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and adults 18-34, according to Nielsen, while CBS was the most-watched network overall, thanks to its own football boost and the week’s No. 1 scripted show in “The Big Bang Theory” (15.75 million).

In adults 18-49, NBC has now beaten its rivals in 15 of the first 17 weeks of the television season (live plus same-day), the first time any network had done this since NBC pulled it off during the final year of “Seinfeld” in the 1997-98 campaign. For the season, the Peacock leads runner-up CBS by 17% (2.7 to 2.3) — the biggest margin at this point of the season for any network since Fox in 2001.

Though Sunday afternoon’s NFL game between Pittsburgh and Denver on CBS rated higher (42.95 million viewers), Saturday’s wild overtime contest on NBC between Green Bay and Arizona became the season’s highest-rated primetime telecast. According to Nielsen, it averaged a 10.6 rating/34 share in adults 18-49 and 33.73 million viewers overall.

NBC also scored Sunday with a Democratic debate from Charleston, S.C. (2.1/6 in 18-49, 10.16 million viewers overall), which won its two-hour time period. The network drew significantly more young viewers than the two previous broadcast debates this cycle, with nearly a third of the total audience in the adults 25-54 demo (31%, vs. 25% for debates that aired on CBS and ABC in late 2015).

On the entertainment front, “Superstore” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.38 million viewers overall) dropped 0.3 in its second week but still looked promising, while lead-out “Telenovela” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.61 million viewers overall) dipped by the same amount but from an already-lower base.

Another new show, “Shades of Blue” (1.3/5 in 18-49, 6.64 million viewers overall), fell off 0.5 opposite a Republican debate in much of the country, but recouped some viewers thanks to a strong showing in 3-day delayed viewing numbers. The cop drama has beaten ABC and CBS in each of its first two weeks.

On Wednesday, meanwhile, NBC had its  most competitive demo finish on the night opposite all-original lineups on the competition (within 0.2 of first place Fox in 18-49) since 2007, and it won on a Wednesday in total viewers against all-original competition for the first time since premiere week in September 2014. “Mysteries of Laura” equaled its highest rating in nearly a year (1.2), while “Law & Order: SVU” matched a 14-month high (2.0) and “Chicago PD” equaled its highest rating ever for a non-crossover episode (2.0).

For CBS, “The Big Bang Theory” led the way as usual (3.8/13 in 18-49), but by 9:30 p.m. the net could only generate a 1.3 in the demo (6.99 million total viewers) for the second week of Jane Lynch comedy “Angel From Hell.” On Friday, “Hawaii Five-0” had another good week, posting its second best demo rating (1.3) and largest overall audience (9.48 million) of the season.

“60 Minutes” drew its largest audience in more than seven years Sunday (20.62 million) for an episode that followed coverage of the hugely rated NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos, which peaked in the 7:30 p.m. half-hour with about 49 million viewers. The newsmag’s stories included Charlie Rose speaking to Sean Penn in the actor’s first interview about his secret meeting with notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

“Madam Secretary” took advantage of the stronger lead-in to match its series high in 18-49 (2.0) while attracting its second largest overall audience of the season (11.87 million). It was the week’s No. 2 most-watched scripted program, behind only “Big Bang Theory.”

At ABC, “The Bachelor” stood tallest (2.0/6 in 18-49, 6.89 million viewers overall), winning its two-hour block. And the net had another better-than-usual second half on Wednesday with “Black-ish” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.06 million viewers overall) and “American Crime” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 4.30 million viewers overall), the latter of which was within a tenth of its week-earlier season premiere.

Fox saw more solid numbers for “American Idol,” including a dominant showing in its Wednesday hour (2.5/8 in 18-49, 9.77 million viewers overall). Unfortunately, less than half of the young adults watching stuck with Fox for the debut of drama “Second Chance” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.70 million viewers overall). Also delivering small numbers were new Sunday comedies “Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.56 million viewers overall) and “Bordertown” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.57 million viewers overall), both of which dropped by at least half a ratings point from their established lead-ins.

President Obama’s final State of the Union address averaged 31.3 million viewers across networks on Tuesday, down from last year’s 31.7 million and a record low for the event. Two-term presidents tend to see big drops in tune-in as their time in office nears; the previous low-water mark for the SOTU was the 31.5 million for President Clinton’s final address in 2000.

Fox Business Network, which scored 11 million viewers on Thursday for its second Republican presidential primary of the season, was the No. 1 cable news network in the adults 25-54 demo last week (487,000 viewers). The combination of the debate and a tumultuous stretch for the stock market helped boost FBN to its highest-rated week of business-day coverage (9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET) ever with 157,000 total viewers.

ESPN led all cable networks for the week thanks to its coverage of Monday’s college football championship game between Clemson and Alabama (8.3/25 in 18-49, 25.67 million viewers overall). Despite it being a competitive game, this year’s matchup was down about 20% from last year and likely was dragged down by lower interest this year in the semifinals which were played on New Year’s Eve.

The “21st Critics Choice Awards” drew a combined 0.42 rating in adults 18-49 and 1.56 million viewers for its simulcast airings on A&E, Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network. It had drawn about 2 million viewers two years ago when it last aired on broadcaster CW.

Showtime’s new drama “Billions” opened to a modest 904,000 viewers for its regular-timeslot premiere Sunday, and 1.391 million for three airings on the night. According to Showtime, though, the show’s roughly 3 million viewers sampling across platforms is a record for a premiere on the premium cabler.


(Jan. 11-17, 2016; live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
NBC ………………….  2.6/8
CBS …………………..  2.3/7
ESPN ………………..  1.4/4
Fox ……………………  1.3/4
ABC …………………..  1.0/3
UNI …………………..  0.8/3
TEL …………………..  0.6/2
TBS …………………..  0.6/2
USA ………………….  0.5/1
TNT ………………….  0.5/1

Total Viewers (in millions)
CBS …………………..  10.56
NBC ………………….    9.63
Fox ……………………   4.19
ESPN ………………..   4.18
ABC …………………..   3.87
UNI …………………..   2.18
FNC …………………..  2.02
HGTV ………………..  1.64
Disney ……………….  1.60
TEL ……………………  1.55


(Jan. 11-17, 2016; live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
1.  NFL Playoffs-Saturday: Green Bay-Arizona (NBC), 10.6/34
2.  College Football Playoff Championship-Monday: Clemson-Alabama (ESPN), 8.3/25
3.  60 Minutes (CBS), 4.8/14
4.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 3.8/13
5.  Modern Family (ABC), 2.7/8
6.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 2.5/8
7.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 2.2/7
8.  Democratic South Carolina Debate-Sunday (NBC), 2.1/6
9.  Life in Pieces (CBS), 2.0/7
9.  Chicago PD (NBC), 2.0/7
9.  The Goldbergs (ABC), 2.0/7
9.  Madam Secretary (CBS), 2.0/6
9.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 2.0/6
9.  Law & Order: SVU (NBC), 2.0/6
9.  The Bachelor (ABC), 2.0/6
16.  The Middle (ABC), 1.9/7
16.  Republican South Carolina Debate-Thursday (FBN), 1.9/7
16.  The Big Bang Theory, Monday 8 p.m.-r (CBS), 1.9/6
16.  The Big Bang Theory, Monday 8:30 p.m.-r (CBS), 1.9/6
16.  Black-ish (ABC), 1.9/6

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  NFL Playoffs-Saturday: Green Bay-Arizona (NBC), 33.73
2.  College Football Playoff Championship-Monday: Clemson-Alabama (ESPN), 25.67
3.  60 Minutes (CBS), 20.62
4.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 15.75
5.  Madam Secretary (CBS), 11.87
6.  Republican South Carolina Debate-Thursday (FBN), 11.09
7.  NCIS-r (CBS), 10.97
8.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 10.62
9.  Democratic South Carolina Debate-Sunday (NBC), 10.16
10.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 9.77
11.  Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), 9.48
12.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 9.33
13.  Life in Pieces (CBS), 9.15
14.  The Good Wife (CBS), 8.96
15.  The Big Bang Theory, Monday 8 p.m.-r (CBS), 8.87
16.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 8.72
17.  Mom (CBS), 8.33
18.  The Big Bang Theory, Monday 8:30 p.m.-r (CBS), 8.28
19.  Modern Family (ABC), 8.17
20.  Law & Order: SVU (NBC), 8.01

Source: Nielsen