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LOS ANGELES - Olympic thrills and the aftermath of a patriarch's death on "This Is Us" combined to give NBC a golden ratings victory.
NBC's total viewership last week topped that of the other three major broadcasters combined by 27 percent, the biggest network regular-season gap since Nielsen's electronic "people meters" began measuring ratings.
That comes with an asterisk: It's not measured against weeks that included Super Bowls and a full seven nights of Olympics, NBC said Tuesday.
The first four nights of the Winter Olympics, the episode of "This Is Us" following the loss of beloved dad Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), and the lighthearted "Ellen's Game of Games" helped power NBC's win, according to Nielsen figures.
But the huge Super Bowl bounce that "This Is Us" got when it aired in the coveted post-game spot Feb. 4, a series high of nearly 27 million viewers, fell back to earth last week.
NBC averaged 15.82 million viewers in prime time. CBS had 5.55 million viewers, ABC had 4.04 million, Fox had 2.85 million, Univision had 1.56 million, the CW had 1.37 million, ION Television had 1.32 million and Telemundo had 1.11 million.
Fox News Channel was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.54 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.7 million, ESPN had 1.37 million, HGTV had 1.366 million and History had 1.33 million.
A look back at 1970s history paid off for CNN. The premiere episode of its documentary series "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst" helped lift CNN over MSNBC in the time slot last Sunday, 947,000 vs 406,000 viewers, and bettered CNN's weekly average of 872,000 viewers.
In the broadcast news contest, a bit of NBC spelling creativity failed to keep its newscast from a second-place showing. The network retitled a pair of "NBC Nightly News" telecasts as "NBC Nitely News" because they aired outside their usual slot in a quarter of the country and drew lower ratings. It's a gambit within ratings boundaries and not unique to NBC.
ABC's "World News Tonight" was the leader with 9.41 million viewers, followed by NBC with 9.68 million for three nights and 8.43 million for two nights — which combined average about 9.2 million. The "CBS Evening News" had 7.09 million.
For the week of Feb. 5-11, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, NBC, 27.84 million; Winter Olympics (Sunday), NBC, 22.68 million; Winter Olympics (Saturday), NBC, 21.4 million; Winter Olympics (Thursday), NBC, 16 million; "NCIS," CBS, 13.9 million; "Bull," CBS, 10.9 million; "This Is Us," NBC, 10.14 million; "The Good Doctor," ABC, 9.64 million; NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 8.39 million; "Ellen's Game of Games," NBC, 7.7 million.
ABC is 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.