NBC Set to Make TV Ratings History Tonight

Move over Joe DiMaggio, The Undertaker and Cal Ripken Jr. — there’s a new streak in town

freestyle relay rio olympics

NBC really wants to win tonight’s primetime TV ratings battle.

OK, the Nielsen summer champ wants to win every night, but this particular evening it has a little extra on the line. That’s because with one more total viewer victory, NBC will break the record for the longest winning streak in recorded history. And should it win the advertiser-sought 18-49 demographic, the network will tie the longest winning streak in that all-important age-range too.

Thanks primarily to the Rio Olympics, NBC has taken the past 20 evenings in both measurements. In the main demo, however, the high-water mark is set at 21 primetimes — the network’s own record from the 2002 Winter Olympics.

By the way, NBC also holds the total-viewer streak victory, owing to both those very same Olympics and the 1996 Summer Games.

We’ve got good news for the eventual 52-week TV season ratings champ: NBC’s got NFL football on tap tonight. Of course, it’s only of the preseason variety, and a Falcons-Dolphins matchup isn’t “Game of the Century” material, but still.

The network won’t count its chickens before they hatch, but executives will sure celebrate tomorrow should NBC win.

Unfortunately, the champagne won’t likely flow beyond that. NBC will probably find itself in an uncommon position on Saturday morning, having presumably lost Friday night, snapping the streak.

CBS has the NFL (Browns vs. Buccaneers) tomorrow evening, and the Les Moonves-led network should win versus the Peacock’s “America’s Got Talent” encore and “Dateline NBC.”

While the catalyst for the near-three-week run has clearly been the Olympics, NBC also won the three nights following the closing ceremony — “momentum,” as they say. During that briefer part of the streak, four of five returning NBC shows have come back with higher ratings from their comparable pre-Olympic telecasts, despite the long break.

Specifically, that positive Rio hangover has aided “American Ninja Warrior,” “Running Wild With Bear Grylls,” “America’s Got Talent” (one out of its two opportunities) and “The Night Shift.” You’re welcome.

Plus, it helped make “Better Late Than Never” the No. 1 new series premiere this summer, so long as we ignore ABC game shows, which were technically adapted from daytime TV. Of course, anything leading out of summer powerhouse “AGT” had the chance to wear that crown.

If you want to help NBC achieve its goal, tune in tonight for Atlanta-Miami. Oh, but before you do that, be sure to sign up and join the Nielsen panel.