NEW YORK — Professional football — the lifeblood of live television this time of year — illustrated its dominance in the ratings this past week.
Four NFL games finished among the Nielsen company's 20 most popular prime-time programs, with NBC's Sunday night and Fox's Thursday contests the top two. Both games featured Los Angeles teams.
Add in three pre-game shows, and football accounted for seven of Nielsen's entries.
The games usually dwarf regular programming. For example, Fox drew 17.4 million to its Thursday night game. Its next most popular show, "Last Man Standing," had 12 million fewer viewers.
Similarly, the 18.1 million people who watched NBC's "Sunday Night Football" were nearly 10 million more than "The Voice." CBS' lineup has a broader base of support and no pro football in prime-time, but it should be noted that its highest-rated show, "60 Minutes," comes on after football on the East Coast.
CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 7.2 million viewers. NBC had 6.2 million viewers, Fox had 5.1 million, ABC had 3.6 million, Univision had 1.4 million, ION Television had 1.3 million, the CW had 1.2 million and Telemundo had 1.1 million.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.4 million people in prime time. Fox News Channel had 2.04 million, Hallmark had 2.02 million, MSNBC had 1.91 million and USA had 1.31 million.
ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.9 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" was second with 8.6 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.4 million
For the week of Dec. 10-16, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Philadelphia at L.A. Rams, NBC, 18.12 million; NFL Football: L.A. Chargers at Kansas City, Fox, 17.41 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 14.55 million; "NCIS," CBS, 12.28 million; "NFL Pregame," NBC, 11.66 million; NFL Football: Minnesota at Seattle, ESPN, 11.63 million; "NFL Pregame," Fox, 10.34 million; "Football Night in America," NBC, 9.22 million; "FBI," CBS, 9.04 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 8.97 million.