Football season transforming television ratings

Television remote control

NEW YORK (AP) – Television’s fall season is already in full swing – the football season.

Fresh entertainment programming doesn’t begin until next week, after the Emmy Awards. Football is so dominant now that 11 of the 20 most-watched prime-time programs last week were either games or shows about the games. The top non-football event in the rankings, CBS’ “60 Minutes,” is there in large measure because it comes directly after an NFL game.

The Thursday night kickoff game to the NFL season, between Pittsburgh and New England, was seen by 27.4 million people. Only one other game – in 2010 between Minnesota and New Orleans – had more viewers in the 14 years that the NFL has done this season opening game.

Similarly, the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game was seen by 26.8 million, second only to a 2012 Pittsburgh-Denver for the most-watched first Sunday night game in the 10 years NBC has been televising them, the Nielsen company said.

In an oddly compelling competition on Sunday night, AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” narrowly beat ABC’s coverage of the annual “Miss America” pageant, 7.2 million to 7.1 million viewers.

Thanks to the two prime-time NFL games, NBC trounced the competition with an average of 11.3 million viewers last week. CBS had 5.9 million viewers, ABC had 4.3 million, Univision had 2.4 million, Fox had 2.1 million, Telemundo had 1.4 million, ION Television had 1.1 million and the CW had 1.05 million.

ESPN was the most popular cable network in prime time, averaging 3.69 million viewers last week. Fox News Channel had 1.7 million, USA had 1.62 million, the Disney Channel had 1.55 million and HGTV had 1.43 million.

NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.2 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” was second with 7.8 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million viewers.

For the week of Sept. 7-13, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Pittsburgh at New England, NBC, 27.4 million; NFL Football: N.Y. Giants at Dallas, NBC, 26.77 million; “NFL Pregame Show” (Thursday), NBC, 20.99 million; “NFL Pregame Show” (Sunday), NBC, 20.03 million; “Football Night in America” (Sunday, 7:57 p.m.), NBC, 14.89 million; “NFL Today Post-Game Show,” CBS, 14.31 million. “NFL Opening Kickoff Show,” NBC, 12.56 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 11.46 million; College Football: Ohio St. vs. Virginia Tech, ESPN, 10.59 million; “America’s Got Talent” (Tuesday), NBC, 10.53 million.

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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