“Sunday Night Football,” the ratings juggernaut that has led NBC’s drive to first place this season, is TV’s top show for the third consecutive year, the network said Thursday.
The outcome was never in doubt: No show has come close to matching “Sunday Night Football.” In an era of DVR viewing, live sports and big events fare the best in real time, and NBC’s weekly games feel like both. Football is such a success that next season, CBS will begin airing NFL games on Thursday, its biggest night of the week.
With the traditional September through May television season over, NBC ran down the stats on “SNF” in a release Thursday:
>> This marks the third consecutive season — and the only three times on record — that a sports program has been the highest-rated and most-watched primetime show.
>> “Sunday Night Football” was the highest-rated show in the key 18-49 demographic, averaging an 8.0 rating. The second highest-rated show is, for the second consecutive year, AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which has a 6.8.
>> “SNF” is the most-watched show with an average 21.7 million total viewers, according to live-plus-same-day numbers. Second place “NCIS” on CBS averages 16.9 million.
>> “SNF” was also tops in such demos at 18-34, 25-54, men 18-49, 18-34 and 25-54, and women 18-34 and 18-49. The win with women 18-49 marks the first time ever that a sports series has ranked No. 1 in the demo. This is the second consecutive season that “SNF” finished No. 1 in women 18-34. (It tied with NBC’s “The Voice“ for No. 1 last season.)
>> Twelve games averaged at least 20 million viewers, tying NBC’s Sochi Winter Olympics for most primetime telecasts with 20 million viewers. (That does not include pre- or post-shows.)
>> In most-current data, which includes same-day viewing plus viewing over the next week, “Sunday Night Football” averaged 21.9 million viewers, nearly two million more than the 20 million for “Big Bang Theory.” (It’s possible that the comedy may overtake “SNF,” because while numbers are still coming in for “Big Bang,” few people are re-watching football games from last season.)