The slow holiday week, which was punctuated by the New Year holiday and ended Jan. 3, saw its top program—NBC’s always strong Sunday Night Football—pull in just 16.3 million viewers. You can undoubtedly tell that TV watchers have been distracted by traveling, holiday gatherings, and other merriment—and thus not tuning into as much television—as Sunday Night Football usually draws somewhere closer to 20 million viewers during a regular week. Or it could just be that the football season is blessedly winding down and the fatigue has set in. But still, it could just be that the football audience has been fragmented: The second spot on the week’s list also went to the pigskin game, specifically the Friday night match-up between Florida and Cincinnati in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, which drew 15.5 million viewers.
It isn’t until the No. 3 spot that scripted fare finally shows up, with ABC’s Desperate Housewives nabbing the top non-football slot for the week with 15.3 million viewers. Housewives, which hadn’t had a new episode since early December, was stronger than it had been in more than a year. In fact, the rest of ABC’s Sunday night fare—which includes America’s Funniest Home Videos (10.2 million viewers) at 7 p.m., Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (11.0 million viewers) at 8 p.m., and Brothers & Sisters (10.8 million viewers) at 10 p.m.—all made the Top 20 this week, likely because of the dearth of other original programming.
The lack of original programming also oddly propelled a couple other shows into the Top 20, where they usually don’t land. That’d be Fox’s The Simpsons (8.6 million viewers) at No. 16 and Family Guy (8.2 million viewers) at No. 17, as well as a special The Blind Side-themed edition of ABC’s 20/20 (8.0 million) at No. 19. Besides repeats, the only other notable entries in the Top 20 include the broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors (9.6 million viewers) at No. 14 and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest (8.2 million viewers), which showed up at No. 17 and was the highest-rated New Year’s Eve programming on the broadcast networks.
The full Top 20—complete with viewership totals—is after the jump.
1. Sunday Night Football | NBC | 16.3 million
2. Allstate Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Cincinnati | Fox | 15.5 million
3. Desperate Housewives | ABC | 15.3 million
4. 60 Minutes | CBS | 14.8 million
5. NCIS (R) | CBS | 12.9 million
6. Two and a Half Men (R) | CBS | 11.1 million
(tie) 6. Criminal Minds (R) | CBS | 11.1 million
8. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition | ABC | 11.0 million
9. CSI: NY (R) | CBS | 10.9 million
10. Brothers & Sisters | ABC | 10.8 million
11. America’s Funniest Home Videos | ABC | 10.2 million
12. The Big Bang Theory (R) | CBS | 9.9 million
(tie) 12. NCIS (R) | CBS | 9.9 million
14. Kennedy Center Honors | CBS | 9.6 million
15. CSI: Miami (R) | CBS | 9.5 million
16. The Simpsons | Fox | 8.6 million
17. Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest | ABC | 8.2 million
(tie) 17. Family Guy | Fox | 8.2 million
19. 20/20 | ABC | 8.0 million
20. The Mentalist (R) | CBS | 7.9 million
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