Something unusual is missing among Nielsen's top programs

Something was missing in last week's list of the 20 most-watched television programs in prime time, something that would have once seemed inconceivable

September 22, 2020, 5:13 PM

NEW YORK -- There's something missing in the Nielsen company's listing of last week's 20 most popular prime-time programs, something that once would have seemed inconceivable.

Not a single scripted program is included — no drama or no comedy.

The most-watched scripted show of the week, NBC's drama “Transplant,” ranked No. 42 with 3.63 million viewers. On what would normally be the eve of the start of a new season, the television production cupboard is bare because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the top 20 included four NFL games, much to the networks' relief, and two NBA playoff games. Games like “Dancing With the Stars,” “America's Got Talent” and “Big Brother” filled more time.

And there was plenty of news, led by the season premiere of “60 Minutes” on CBS. Thirteen individual programs on Fox News Channel alone had a bigger audience than “Transplant.”

The top 20 had one entry that was at least ABOUT scripted drama and comedy, with the annual telecast of the Emmy Awards on ABC. But the Emmys had its smallest audience ever, and even lagged behind the Academy of Country Music Awards last week.

NBC led the week in prime-time, averaging 4.8 million viewers. CBS had 4.1 million, ABC had 3.8 million, Univision had 1.4 million, Fox had 1.3 million, ION Television had 1.1 million and Telemundo had 1.06 million.

Fox News Channel led the cable networks with a prime-time average of 3.7 million viewers. ESPN had 3.41 million, MSNBC had 1.96 million, CNN had 1.52 million and TNT had 1.42 million.

ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race, averaging 9 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 7.6 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.6 million.

For the week of Sept. 14-20, the top 20 prime-time programs, their networks and viewership:

1. NFL Football: New England at Seattle, NBC, 17.69 million.

2. “Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 11.51 million.

3. NFL Football: Pittsburgh at N.Y. Giants, ESPN, 11.24 million.

4. “NFL Sunday Post-Game,” Fox, 10.88 million.

5. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 9.66 million.

6. “Football Night in America, Part 3,” NBC, 8.43 million.

7. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 8.13 million.

8. NFL Football: Tennessee at Denver, ESPN, 8.07 million.

9. “Academy of Country Music Awards,” CBS, 6.84 million.

10. NFL Football: Cincinnati at Cleveland, NFLN, 6.68 million.

11. “Emmy Awards,” ABC, 6.36 million.

12. “America's Got Talent” (Tuesday), NBC, 5.95 million.

13. NBA Playoffs: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers (Tuesday), ESPN, 5.43 million.

14. “America's Got Talent” (Wednesday), NBC, 5.33 million.

15. NBA Playoffs: Denver vs. L.A. Lakers (Friday), TNT, 4.92 million.

16. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Tuesday), Fox News, 4.85 million.

17. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Thursday), Fox News, 4.733 million.

18. “Hannity” (Thursday), Fox News, 4.725 million.

19. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Monday), Fox News, 4.64 million.

20. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Wednesday), Fox News, 4.63 million.

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