NEW YORK — As Americans trimmed the tree last week and hung their stockings with care, many viewers turned away from TV screens. During a week of mostly reruns, total prime-time viewership of the Big Four networks dipped by 25 percent from the week before.
Even so, CBS retained its customary lead position, claiming 12 of the top 20 programs, according to the Nielsen Co.
Only football scored big, with NBC's faceoff between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the week's most watched program, seen by nearly 21 million viewers, and ESPN's coverage of the Denver vs. Cincinnati clash drawing 16 million viewers to take third place.
Overall in prime time for the week of Dec. 22-28, CBS averaged 6.1 million viewers. NBC had 5.9 million, ABC had 4.1 million, Fox had 3.5 million and Univision had 2.3 million. Telemundo had 1.3 million, followed by ION Television with 1.2 million and the CW with 1.1 million.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 4.3 million viewers. ABC Family had 2.6 million, and TNT had 1.9 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.4 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 8.4 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.3 million viewers.
For the week of Dec. 22-28, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, NBC, 20.71 million; "The OT," Fox, 16.18 million; NFL Football: Denver at Cincinnati, ESPN, 16.03 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 15.14 million; "Football Night in America," NBC, 11.16 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 11.05 million; "NCIS," CBS, 10.51 million; "Undercover Boss," CBS, 9.18 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 8.89 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 8.62 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.