CBS averaged more viewers last week than ABC, Fox and NBC combined, thanks to its coverage of the AFC Championship Game and its usual strength in scripted programming.
CBS averaged 14.22 million viewers — the most by any network this season — for its prime-time programming between Jan. 12 and Sunday, according to live-plus-same day figures released by Nielsen today.
ABC was second among the broadcast networks, averaging 4.99 million, followed by Fox, which averaged 4.76 million, and NBC, which averaged 4.39 million.
Thanks to its record-setting audience for the College Football Playoff National Championship, ESPN averaged 5.27 million viewers for the week, topping all but CBS among the broadcast networks.
Ohio State’s 42-20 victory over Oregon averaged 33.4 million viewers — the most for any cable program in history. It eclipsed the previous record of 28.27 million viewers set 11 days earlier for the Buckeyes’ 42-35 victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, which served as the second College Football Playoff Semifinal.
The New England Patriots’ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts averaged 42.14 million viewers. That’s the largest audience for any prime-time program this season, but 24.6 percent below the 55.91 million average for last year’s prime-time conference championship game, the Seattle Seahawks’ 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, which aired on Fox.
Viewership was down 11.7 percent from the last time the AFC Championship Game aired in prime time, 2013, when it averaged 47.71 million. Viewership is traditionally lower for AFC games than NFC games because the conference is in smaller markets.
The prime-time conference championship game annually alternates between CBS and Fox.
CBS had each of the six most-watched scripted series and nine of the top 10, led by “NCIS,” which averaged 19.87 million viewers, finishing third overall behind the AFC Championship Game and the College Football Playoff National Championship.
The Fox drama “Empire” became the first new series this season to have more viewers for its second episode than its premiere, averaging 10.32 million viewers, winning its 9-10 p.m. Wednesday time slot and finishing 15th for the week. The audience was the largest of the week any non-CBS scripted program.
Fox announced on Saturday that it had ordered a second season of “Empire.”
Fox also had both of the most-watched non-CBS entertainment programs — the Wednesday and Thursday episodes of “American Idol.” The Wednesday episode was 10th for the week, averaging 10.87 million viewers and winning its 8-9 p.m. time slot, and the Thursday episode was 14th, averaging 10.42 million viewers.
The week’s only premiere, the Fox video clip series “World’s Funniest Fails,” finished third in its Friday 8-9 p.m. time slot and 83rd among the week’s prime-time broadcast and cable programs, averaging 3.32 million viewers.
The week’s most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was Tuesday episode of the Univision telenovela “Mi Corazon Es Tuyo,” which averaged 3.85 million viewers, putting it 61st overall.
As usual, Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network, averaging 3.21 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 1.34 million, followed by UniMas (580,000), Estrella TV (250,000), MundoFox (220,000) and Azteca America (160,000).
The “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 279th consecutive week and 326th of the past 327, averaging 9.66 million viewers, followed by ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” (9.31 million) and “The CBS Evening News” (7.83 million).
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were CBS’ coverage of the AFC Championship Game; ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Playoff National Championship; CBS’ “NCIS”; CBS’ 20-minute AFC Championship Game postgame show; ESPN’s 14-minute College Football Playoff National Championship pregame show; CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Blue Bloods,” Sunday “Scorpion” episode and the Thursday episode of “The Big Bang Theory”; and the Wednesday episode of Fox’s “American Idol.”