Ratings: CBS’ Christmas-Tree Lighting Draws 1.5 Million Fewer Viewers Than NBC’s Rockefeller Center Event

But 4.5 million sets of eyeballs for network’s first-ever “National Christmas Tree Lighting” ain’t bad

National Christmas Tree Lighted For Holiday Season
Getty Images

CBS’s first-ever broadcast of the “National Christmas Tree Lighting” drew 4.5 million viewers and a 0.6 rating among adults in the 18-49 demographic on Sunday, according to early Nielsen data.

The hourlong telecast featuring President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden lighting the D.C. tree, which aired from 8:30-9:30 p.m., was 1.5 million viewers shy of what NBC’s annual “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” garnered last week.

That tree lighting, which is led by the “Today” show team and takes place at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in NYC, bested CBS’ with a 0.8 rating and 6 million total viewers from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. last Wednesday. It was also the least-watched of NBC’s 30 Rock Christmas events to-date.

So for CBS’ first-go at airing the “National Christmas Tree Lighting,” 4.5 million viewers is not too shabby when you consider the fact it was up against the NFL on NBC.

Due to the nature of live sports, the below numbers for CBS and NBC should be considered subject to significant adjustment when final results come in.

NBC was first in ratings with a 3.1 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and in total viewers with an average of 12.1 million, according to preliminary numbers. Those numbers were put up by the Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs “Sunday Night Football” game, along with NBC’s pre-kickoff show.

CBS was second in ratings with a 1.2 and in viewers with 7.2 million. Following an NFL overrun, “60 Minutes” from 7:30-8:30 earned a 1.9 and 11.8 million viewers. At 8:30, the “National Christmas Tree Lighting” earned the above-mentioned 0.6 and 4.5 million viewers. From 9:30-10:30, the annual “Home for the Holidays” special settled for a 0.3 and 2.4 million viewers. A repeat followed.

Fox was third in ratings with a 0.4 and fourth in viewers with 1.3 million. The network aired all reruns.

ABC was fourth in ratings with a 0.3 and third in viewers with 2.5 million. From 7-8, a “West Side Story”-centric “20/20” special managed a 0.2 and 2.6 million viewers. At 8, “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” took a 0.4 and 3 million viewers. “Supermarket Sweep” at 9 had a 0.3 and 1.9 million viewers. At 10, “The Rookie” closed the night with a 0.3 and 2.7 million viewers.

The CW was fifth in ratings with a 0.1 and in viewers with 276,000. At 8, a new episode of “Legends of the Hidden Temple” settled for a 0.1 and 249,000 viewers. Encores followed.

We do not have early Nielsen numbers for Spanish-language broadcast networks Univision and Telemundo.