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CBS returns to the top of the prime-time ratings

CBS returned to the top of the prime-time ratings last week after a one-week absence, thanks to the network’s usual dominance in scripted programming along with the return of its regular Friday lineup and football.

CBS averaged 10.55 million viewers for its prime-time television programming between Nov. 17 and Sunday to score its eighth victory in the nine-week-old television season.

NBC, which was first a week earlier, finished second, averaging 8.46 million, followed by ABC (8.2 million) and Fox (3.17 million), according to live-plus-same-day figures released today by Nielsen.

CBS’ viewership was up 22 percent from its 8.64 million average a week earlier. And its viewership was up 155 percent on Friday with the return of its lineup of “The Amazing Race,” “Hawaii Five-O” and “Blue Bloods.”

CBS devoted its previous Friday to the inaugural broadcast of the Hollywood Movie Awards and a 52-minute post-ceremony party broadcast, averaging 3.61 million viewers for the night vs. 9.21 million a week later.

CBS had nine of the 11 most-watched scripted programs, topped by

“NCIS,” which was third overall with 18.1 million viewers.

CBS also benefited from a 41-minute runover of its Sunday afternoon coverage into prime time, which it did not have a week earlier. The runover, which averaged 30.95 million viewers, is not considered a separate program but is included in the weekly average.

For the ninth time in 11 weeks, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the most-watched prime-time program, with the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-28 victory over the New York Giants averaging 22.38 million viewers.

The week’s only premiere, the NBC drama “State of Affairs,” was fourth in its Monday 10-11 p.m. time slot and 29th for the week, averaging 8.69 million viewers.

NBC finished first among viewers ages 18-49, the group ABC and Fox also target and advertisers covet.

“Sunday Night Football” was the week’s most-watched program among the group, averaging 10.31 million viewers, followed by the AMC horror drama “The Walking Dead” (8.86 million); the nine-minute “Sunday Night Football” kickoff show (6.59 million); ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans (5.75 million); and “The Big Bang Theory” (5.15 million).

ESPN was the most-watched cable network for the 11th consecutive week, averaging 3.39 million viewers. “The Walking Dead,” ninth overall, was the most-watched cable program with 13.33 million viewers.

The week’s most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was Univision’s coverage of the Latin Grammy Awards which averaged 4.76 million viewers, putting it 62nd among all prime-time broadcast and cable programs.

As usual, Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network, averaging 3.25 million viewers, followed by Telemundo (1.2 million), UniMas (430,000), Estrella TV (330,000), MundoFox (190,000) and Azteca America (130,000).

The “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 271st consecutive week and 318th of the past 319, averaging 9.79 million viewers, followed by ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” (9.25 million). The “CBS Evening News” averaged 7.62 million viewers, its largest audience since the week of March 24-28.

The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”; CBS’ “NCIS,” “60 Minutes” and “NCIS: New Orleans”; the nine-minute “Sunday Night Football” kickoff show; CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory”; ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”; AMC’s “The Walking Dead”; and ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

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