NEW YORK, N.Y. - With turkey on the table, chances are football, dancing or zombies were on television in many American homes over Thanksgiving week.
Nine of the 20 most-watched programs on the Nielsen company's weekly list were either football games, pregame or postgame shows. Even some non-football entries were influenced by football: "60 Minutes" had its biggest audience in two years, at least partly because it aired directly after the much-anticipated NFL matchup between the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers.
"Dancing With the Stars" concluded a strong cycle last week with actor Alfonso Ribeiro's victory and ABC milked it by airing pre- and post-game shows. All five hours of "Dancing" content last week landed in Nielsen's top 20.
AMC's phenomenon "The Walking Dead" continues to be a winner, with its 14.8 million viewers on Sunday second only to CBS' "NCIS" among scripted shows last week.
Nielsen also issued a separate report illustrating the continued slow shift away from watching live TV in a digital world. During July, August and September, the average American spent four hours, 32 minutes watching live television each day. That's down from four hours, 50 minutes two years earlier.
At the same time, Nielsen said Americans spent at average of one hour, 33 minutes each day on smartphones. That's up from 53 minutes a day two years ago. Nielsen does not have a measurement for tablet usage.
Thanksgiving and Sunday night football games helped NBC win the week in prime time, averaging 9.6 million viewers. CBS averaged 9.3 million, ABC had 6.9 million, Fox had 3.2 million, Univision had 2.7 million, the CW had 1.7 million, ION Television had 1.2 million and Telemundo had 1.1 million.
Buoyed by a blockbuster Saturday night game between Alabama and Auburn, ESPN led all cable networks with a prime-time average of 4.51 million. The Hallmark Channel had 2.06 million, Fox News Channel had 1.98 million, AMC had 1.92 million and the Disney Channel had 1.81 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 10.4 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 9.8 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.6 million viewers.
For the week of Nov. 24-30, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Seattle at San Francisco, NBC, 22.85 million; NFL Football: Denver at Kansas City, NBC, 21.11 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 18.36 million; "NFL Thursday Post-Game," Fox, 16.26 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 16.06 million; "NCIS," CBS, 16.01 million; "Dancing With the Stars" (Tuesday), ABC, 15.98 million; "Dancing With the Stars" (Monday), ABC, 14.87 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 14.81 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 14.47 million.
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.