Football scored big with viewers last week, with ESPN on top

NEW YORK (AP) Football games (and football chatter) ruled in the ratings arena last week, according to the Nielsen company.

That meant cable's ESPN ruled in audience over all the broadcast networks. In prime-time overall for the week, it averaged 8.64 million viewers, nearly 2 million more than broadcast front-runner CBS. ESPN claimed 13 of the top 20 slots with its football coverage and adjoining pigskin punditry.

Even so, NBC scored the week's biggest show: its Sunday night NFL faceoff between Minnesota and Green Bay was seen by 24 million viewers.

Among broadcast networks for the reruns-laden week, CBS squeaked out a victory with an average of 6.72 million viewers. NBC, in second place for the week, was right behind with 6.66 million viewers, while ABC had 4.1 million, Fox had 2.8 million, Univision had 1.9 million, Telemundo had 1.6 million, ION Television had 1.4 million, and the CW had 1.1 million.

ABC had a rare win in the evening news race with its ''World News Tonight with David Muir'' drawing 9.7 million viewers, though it was a week that came with asterisks. Only Monday through Wednesday newscasts on the three networks were measured on this holiday week, and Kate Snow subbed for Lester Holt on NBC's ''Nightly News,'' the runner-up with 9.3 million. The ''CBS Evening News'' had 7.9 million viewers.

For the week of Dec. 28-Jan. 3, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Minnesota vs. Green Bay, NBC, 24.29 million; College Football Semifinal: Michigan State vs. Alabama, ESPN, 18.55 million; College Football Studio (Thursday), ESPN, 18.09 million; ''Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick,'' NBC, 17.75 million; College Football Studio (Thursday), ESPN, 16.76 million; NFL Football: Cincinnati vs. Denver, ESPN, 15.81 million; College Football Semifinal: Oklahoma vs. Clemson, ESPN, 15.64 million; ''60 Minutes,'' CBS, 15.36 million; Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Iowa, ESPN, 13.55 million; College Football Studio (Friday), ESPN, 13.22 million.

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ABC and ESPN are 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.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com

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