'Sunday Night Football' First Sports Series to Rank as Most-Watched Primetime Show For Full Season

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

Written By

May 24th, 2012

via press release:






With the conclusion of the 2011-12 television season last night, NBC’s Sunday Night Football topped all primetime entertainment programming to become the first sports series to finish the full fall-spring TV season as the most-watched show in primetime, according to The Nielsen Company.


Sunday Night Football averaged 21.5 million viewers and 20.9 million viewers for its games during the official TV season which ran from Sept. 19, 2011 through May 23, 2012. American Idol ranked second.  Sunday Night Football was also the top-ranked primetime program for the television season in household rating, and all key adult and male demographics.


Additional TV highlights from the 2011 NFL season:


·         Super Bowl XLVI on NBC was the most-watched program in U.S. television history.


·         The AFC and NFC Championship Games accounted for the most-watched Championship Sunday in 30 years.


·         Divisional Playoff weekend was the most watched ever, with Giants-Packers on FOX ranking as the most-watched Divisional Playoff game in history.


·         The Steelers-Broncos playoff game on CBS was the most-watched Wild Card game ever.


·         FOX posted its most-watched NFL season ever.


·         CBS posted its second-most watched NFL season since acquiring the AFC package.


·         ESPN’s Monday Night Football was the most-watched series on cable for the sixth consecutive year.


·         NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football posted its most-watched season ever.

  • GARY

    Is it any wonder that the likes of Hines Ward and Donald Driver won the mirror ball on DWTS

  • Chris

    You know about all the ramblings you hear about more and more people watching shows on DVRs or online and not live? Well, sports are DVR-proof. Not watching live on television just dulls down the intensity of the event. So it’s no wonder Sunday Night Football is the top program and will be for years to come. As far as I see it, sports are going to be extremely vital for the networks’ seasonal averages in the future; in fact, if FOX’s trend of airing sports regularly on Saturday nights is any indication, I think by the end of the decade, all of the big four networks will have turned to sports on Saturday nights. For ratings on Saturday, it’s the only way to go.

  • Boyd

    It’s totally understandable. Football is one of the few things on network television that is actually worth watching these days.

  • Morgan Wick

    Does this say more about the NFL and SNF, or the declining status of American Idol?

  • Morgan Wick

    On the one hand, “first sports series to rank as most-watched primetime show” implies this never happened even in the heyday of MNF. On the other, American Idol had quite the most-watched-show streak going. Perhaps what it says about more than anything is the increasing fracturing of the TV audience due to the Internet and cable, and football’s immunity to it.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “On the one hand, “first sports series to rank as most-watched primetime show” implies this never happened even in the heyday of MNF.”

    I don’t believe MNF was ever the most watched primetime show, but I don’t have the data to back that up.

    Remember that ABC Monday night football ended in 2005, when non sports broadcast ratings were noticeably higher than they are now.

  • 6’9


  • Mark Wilkins

    I love that NFL is #1 and not that sing garbage on fox

  • Ultima

    Fun fact – even though NBC Sunday Night Football is the highest rated and most watched program in primetime, it’s rarely the most watched football game on Sundays, finishing behind the doubleheader on either FOX or CBS (despite those games being well short of 100% coverage).

  • William Haney

    And yet, NBC was fourth.

  • jp

    thats why a network like FOX is going for all the marbles with there SATURDAY NIGHT SPORTS PROGRAMMING. Sports is and always will be DVR proof.

    Good news for NBC, good news for the networks (CBS, FOX, ESPN and NFL Network)that televise the NFL and good for NFL.

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures