HOLLYWOOD (CNS) - “Sunday Night Football” drew the largest audience for any prime-time program this season, helping NBC be the most-watched network during a week there were no first-run episodes of scripted series programs on  the four major broadcast networks.

The Philadelphia Eagles 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in a game that decided the NFC East Division champion averaged 27.36 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released today by Nielsen. The audience was the fourth largest in the eight seasons “Sunday Night Football” has aired on NBC.

Each of the week’s six most-watched programs were NFL-related -- two games, two pregame shows and two postgame shows.

Only two non-football programs averaged more than 8 million viewers  reruns of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” seventh for the week averaging 10.98 million, and “60 Minutes,” eighth, averaging 10.47 million.


NBC recorded its second weekly victory in the 14-week-old season, averaging 6.73 million viewers for its prime-time programming between Dec. 23 and Sunday.

NBC’s other victory came during the week of Dec. 2-8 when it got a 1-2 finish from “Sunday Night Football” and “The Sound of Music Live!”

CBS, the weekly winner 11 times this season, was second, averaging 6.17 million. ABC was third, averaging 4.15 million.

Fox was fourth among the major broadcast networks and fifth overall, averaging 3.57 million.

ESPN’s college bowl game coverage helped it average 4.66 million viewers for the week to lead the cable networks.

ESPN also had cable’s most-watched program of the week, the “Monday  Night Football” game between the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers that  averaged 13.23 million viewers, sixth among all prime-time programs.

Fox and CBS also benefited from their NFL coverage.

Fox averaged 27.2 million viewers for a 47-minute runover of its afternoon NFL coverage into prime time. The 15-minute edition of its postgame show “The OT” that followed averaged 15.32 million, third among the week’s prime-time programs.

The combination of a 45-minute runover of CBS’ afternoon NFL coverage into prime time and a 15-minute “The NFL Today” postgame show averaged 14.65 million viewers. The figure for the runover was not available. The postgame show averaged 13.39 million viewers, fifth for the week.

The prime-time runovers are not considered separate programs, but are counted in the weekly average.

NBC finished first among viewers ages 18-49, the group it, ABC and Fox target and advertisers covet because it watches less television than average and is harder to reach.

NBC has led or tied for first in the category 13 of the season’s 14 weeks, losing only to Fox when it aired four World Series games the week of Oct. 21-27.

“Sunday Night Football” was the week’s most-watched program in the category.

NBC also led among viewers ages 25-54, 18-34 and 12-17.     

CBS and ABC aired 22 hours of prime-time programming for ratings purposes, NBC 21 1/2 hours and Fox 15 hours, two minutes.

The week’s most-watched Spanish-language program was the Friday episode of the Univision telenovela “Lo Que La Vida Me Robo,” which averaged 3.48 million viewers, 73rd among all prime-time broadcast and cable programs.

As usual, Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network, averaging 2.42 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 1.17 million,  followed by UniMas, which averaged 700,000, Estrella TV, which averaged  210,000, MundoFox, which averaged 100,000, and Azteca America, which averaged  80,000.

The “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 224th consecutive week and 271st time in the  past 272 weeks, averaging 8.73 million viewers.

ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” was second, averaging 7.62 million viewers.

The “CBS Evening News” averaged 6.54 million viewers, finishing third for the 378th consecutive week and 133rd since Scott Pelley became anchor.

Figures for all three network newscasts do not include Christmas Eve and Christmas.

The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s “Sunday Night  Football” and its nine-minute kickoff show; Fox’s 15-minute NFL postgame  show, “The OT”; the 23-minute third segment of NBC’s “Football Night in  America”; CBS’ 15-minute “The NFL Today” postgame show; ESPN’s “Monday  Night Football”; and CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” “60 Minutes,” “The  Kennedy Center Honors” and “The Millers.”