Sunday’s telecast of the Super Bowl — the third most-watched program in U.S. television history — has given CBS a super-sized boost in the season’s most closely watched ratings races.

The Eye has leap-frogged NBC in adults 18-49 (leading by a tenth of a ratings point) and adults 25-54 (now up 0.3), while opening up its lead in total viewers to 2.85 million. NBC would appear capable of moving back ahead of the Eye in 18-49 ahead this spring with the returns of “The Voice” and top-rated new series “Blindspot,” but it’s way too early to make any definitive pronouncements.

The Denver Broncos’ 24-10 victory in Super Bowl 50 from Santa Clara, Calif., averaged a 37.7 rating/80 share in adults 18-49 and 111.86 million viewers overall Sunday, according to Nielsen. The demo score was down 4% from last year to a seven-year low, but it still towers over everything else to air on television since last year’s Big Game on NBC (39.1/79). And in total viewers, this year’s game trails only last year’s Seattle-New England matchup (114.4 million) and the 2014 Denver-Seattle game on Fox (112.2 million).

(A record average audience of 1.4 million streamed this year’s Super Bowl during any given minute, and that may have eaten into the television totals. CBS Interactive sold live stream ads together with broadcast for incremental value, and national ads ran in the same spots on the broadcast and live stream for the first time this year.)

CBS doesn’t have any new series bowing over the next month, and instead used the big game to shine a spotlight on its existing series as well as new late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and James Corden. Both “Late Show” and “Late Late Show” hit ratings highs with their special episodes after the game, and the net will hope the strong sampling can help attract more viewers to their programs on a regular basis.

In addition to Super Sunday, CBS’ big first week of February also was highlighted by “The Big Bang Theory” (3.8/13 in 18-49, 15.29 million viewers overall) — the frame’s No. 1 regularly scheduled series — and the two-hour Tuesday special “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 11.44 million viewers overall).

The Eye’s two new comedies of the season met different fates last week, with “Life in Pieces” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 9.09 million viewers overall) rising to its top Thursday rating to date and holding a best-yet 58% of its “The Big Bang Theory” lead-in. “Angel From Hell,” though, surprisingly got the ax after holding steady (1.4/4 in 18-49, 6.76 million viewers overall), retaining more than 80% of its lead-in for the fifth time in five airings.

Elsewhere last week, FX saw a strong premiere for 10-part event series “People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” It drew the largest same-day audience for the debut of an original drama on the network (5.11 million), eclipsing the record set by “The Shield” in March 2002 (4.83 million). And in adults 18-49, its 2.0 rating was the best for a drama launch since a 2.4 for “The Shield.”

At Fox, the Monday tandem of “The X-Files” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 8.37 million viewers overall) and “Lucifer” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 6.00 million viewers overall) dropped off some from their big bows of the previous week but lifted the network to a first-place finish on the night in 18-49 and all male demos. “X-Files” was Monday’s No. 1 program in several categories and stood as the No. 2 scripted program for the week in 18-49.

On the political front, there were distinctly different showings for the week’s Republican and Democratic debates. A Democratic debate Thursday on MSNBC drew just 4.92 million viewers (the lowest total for any primetime debate this election cycle), but the GOP gathering Saturday night on ABC spiked to 13.33 million — the largest audience for any of the 2016 debates and the network’s highest Saturday tune-in (excluding sports) since 2001.

CNN scored Wednesday with its New Hampshire Democratic Town Hall, which averaged 871,000 adults 25-54 to beat the combined totals in the 9-11 p.m. time period of Fox News Channel (486,000) and MSNBC (243,000). And in total viewers, CNN’s 2.72 million put it ahead of FNC (2.33 million) and well ahead of MSNBC (984,000).

Leading off the week, coverage of the Iowa caucuses caused a ratings spike at the cable news networks, with Fox News, CNN and MSNBC combining to draw 10.2 million viewers during primetime — roughly double the totals for four years ago (5.14 million). Both Fox News (4.46 million total viewers) and CNN (1.39 million adults 25-54) set viewership records for an Iowa caucus.

Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network in primetime (as well as total-day) for a third straight week, averaging 2.27 million viewers nightly. In addition to Monday with the Iowa caucuses, FNC’s averages were bolstered by another big week for “The O’Reilly Factor” (3.3 million viewers, including 540,000 adults 25-54). This was the fifth straight week that Bill O’Reilly’s program has averaged more than 3 million viewers, its longest streak since the 2012 election cycle more than three years ago.


(Feb. 1-7, 2016; live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
CBS ……………..  7.7/24
Fox ………………  1.2/4
ABC ……………..  1.2/4
NBC ……………..  1.0/3
CW ………………  0.7/2
UNI ……………..  0.6/2
ESPN …………..  0.6/2
FX ……………….  0.5/2
USA ……………..  0.5/1
TEL ……………..  0.5/1

Total Viewers (in millions)
CBS ………………  25.17
ABC ………………   5.95
NBC ………………  4.47
Fox ……………….   4.16
FNC ………………   2.27
UNI ………………   1.74
CW ……………….   1.73
HGTV …………..   1.62
USA ……………..   1.59
ION ………………   1.30

(Feb. 1-7, 2016; live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.  Super Bowl 50: Denver-Carolina (CBS), 37.7/80
2.  Super Bowl 50 Post-Game (CBS), 25.4/60
3.  Late Show with Stephen Colbert-Sunday (CBS), 7.7/25
4.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 3.8/13
5.  The X-Files (Fox), 2.7/8
6.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 2.3/8
6.  The Bachelor (ABC), 2.3/7
8.  Life in Pieces (CBS), 2.2/7
8.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 2.2/7
10.  New Hampshire Republican Debate (ABC), 2.1/8
11.  Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials (CBS), 2.0/7
11.  People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX), 2.0/7
11.  Lucifer (Fox), 2.0/6
14.  Chicago Fire (NBC), 1.8/6
14.  Law & Order: SVU (NBC), 1.8/6
16.  Mom (CBS), 1.7/6
16.  Chicago PD (NBC), 1.7/6
18.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 1.6/6
18.  Chicago Med (NBC), 1.6/5
18.  Mike & Molly (CBS), 1.6/5

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  Super Bowl 50: Denver-Carolina (CBS), 111.86
2.  Super Bowl 50 Post-Game (CBS), 70.01
3.  Late Show with Stephen Colbert-Sunday (CBS), 20.55
4.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 15.29
5.  New Hampshire Republican Debate (ABC), 13.33
6.  Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials (CBS), 11.44
7.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 9.18
8.  Life in Pieces (CBS), 9.09
9.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 8.94
10.  The X-Files (Fox), 8.37
11.  Chicago Fire (NBC), 8.18
12.  Mom (CBS), 7.95
13.  Chicago Med (NBC), 7.54
14.  The Bachelor (ABC), 7.50
15.  NCIS, 10 p.m.-r (CBS), 7.42
16.  Law & Order: SVU (NBC), 7.31
17.  Scorpion-r (CBS), 7.23
18.  Chicago PD (NBC), 7.22
19.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 7.09
20.  Movie: Madoff, Part 1 (ABC), 7.08

Source: Nielsen