Tuesday, July 17, 2018
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016
Nielsen Week In Review: “Sunday Night Football” Ratings Lag
Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) scores a touchdown on a 7-yard pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/George Bridges)
  • NEW YORK (AP)
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NBC’s flagship Sunday Night Football game had its smallest audience in five years this week, evidence of the NFL’s new deflation issue.

The game between Indianapolis and Houston reached 13.6 million viewers, removing the weekly broadcast from its usual spot at or very close to the top of the Nielsen company ratings. CBS’ Thursday night game scored slightly higher.

To be fair, Indianapolis and Houston represents few fans’ idea of a marquee matchup. NFL ratings have been down in general this year, leading to much speculation about the cause. Intense interest in the presidential race is thought to be one factor in the slump.

This season, NBC’s primetime games have been down 17 percent from last year, when ratings were at their peak for the telecast.

A continued slump for the NFL, which has been one of the most dependable ways for TV networks to get viewers in recent years, has broad implications. Networks may be forced to offer “make goods,” or free commercials, to advertisers if ratings don’t pick up. If the downfall is long term, it could impact the prices that networks pay the NFL for broadcast packages.

CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 9.1 million viewers. NBC had 7.2 million, and won among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic advertisers seek. ABC had 5.8 million, Fox had 5.1 million, Telemundo had 1.72 million, Univision had 1.66 million, the CW had 1.6 million and ION Television had 1.1 million.

Fox News Channel was the week’s most popular cable network, averaging 2.44 million viewers in prime time. TBS had 2.23 million, ESPN had 1.99 million, MSNBC had 1.55 million and USA had 1.5 million.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.3 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 8 million and the “CBS Evening News” reached 6.6 million.

Below are primetime viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for Oct. 10-16. Listings include the week’s ranking and viewership.

1. “The OT,” Fox, 15.38 million.

2. “NCIS,” CBS, 14.77 million.

3. NFL Football: Denver at San Diego, CBS, 14.49 million.

4. “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 14.41 million.

5. NFL Football: Indianapolis at Houston, NBC, 13.6 million.

6. “Bull,” CBS, 13 million.

7. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 11.37 million.

8. “Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick,” NBC, 11.01 million.

9. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 10.89 million.

10. “The Voice” (Tuesday), NBC, 10.88 million.

11. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 10.43 million.

12. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.42 million.

13. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 10.22 million.

14. “This is Us,” NBC, 9.87 million.

15. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 9.87 million.

16. “Empire,” Fox, 9.27 million.

17. “Hawaii Five-0,” CBS, 9.19 million.

18. “Madam Secretary,” CBS, 9.1 million.

19. “Survivor,” CBS, 9.06 million.

19. NFL Football: Tampa Bay at Carolina, ESPN, 9.06 million.

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