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Super Bowl The Third Most Watched Show Of All Time

NBC went out of the NFL business in style as the Super Bowl drew 133.4 million viewers to score as one of TV’s most-watched programs ever and giving the network a hefty victory in the weekly ratings contest.

NBC’s total audience for Jan. 19-25 exceeded that of ABC and CBS combined, according to figures Tuesday from Nielsen Media Research.

For the week, NBC earned a 16.1 average rating and a 26 share. ABC had a 7.5 rating and 12 share, just edging CBS’ 7.2 rating and 11 share. Fox posted a 6.6 rating and 10 share.

The Denver Broncos’ 31-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday was the last National Football League game that NBC will broadcast for at least eight years after it declined to sign a costly new deal. Sunday’s telecast tied the Dallas Cowboys’ 1993 Super Bowl win over the Buffalo Bills for the third most-watched TV program in history.

Ratings increased through each half-hour of this year’s game, reflecting an unusually competitive game.

“Of course we’ll miss the NFL,” NBC programming head Warren Littlefield said Tuesday. “What a great way to conclude a 33-year relationship, with a game that has to go down as one of the all-time great championship games.”

NBC had the top eight programs and 16 of the top 20 for the week, with pre- and post-game shows and its usual indomitable Thursday lineup including “Friends” and “ER” performing well even in reruns.

After the Super Bowl, a special episode of “3rd Rock From the Sun” attracted the sitcom’s biggest audience yet but failed to match the viewership for a “Friends” episode that followed the 1996 Super Bowl on NBC.

NBC also earned the top spot among evening newscasts in a heavy news week that included Pope John Paul II’s Cuban visit and allegations that President Clinton had sex with a White House intern.

“NBC Nightly News” was No. 1 with a 9.3 rating and 17 share. ABC’s “World News Tonight” earned a 9.0 rating and matching 17 share to move up to second place from the week before, while the “CBS Evening News” had an 8.5 rating and 16 share.

Prime time ratings as compiled by Nielsen Media Research for Jan. 19-25. Top 10 listings include the week’s ranking, with rating for the week, season-to-date rankings in parentheses, and total homes.

An “X” in parentheses denotes one-time-only presentation. A rating measures the percentage of the nation’s estimated 97 million TV homes. Each ratings point represents 980,000 households.

1. (X) “Super Bowl XXXII: Green Bay vs. Denver,” NBC, 44.5, 43.2 million homes

2. (X) “Super Bowl XXXII Post Game,” NBC, 33.4, 32.4 million homes

3. (X) “Super Bowl XXXII Kickoff,” NBC, 32.5, 31.5 million homes

4. (X) “3rd Rock From The Sun,” NBC, 19.7, 19.1 million homes

5. (2) “Seinfeld,” NBC, 19.5, 18.9 million homes

6. (4) “Friends,” NBC, 16.0, 15.5 million homes

7. (1) “E.R.,” NBC, 16.3, 15.8 million homes

8. (3) “Veronica’s Closet,” NBC, 15.2, 14.7 million homes

9. (10) “Home Improvement,” ABC, 14.8, 14.4 million homes

10. (8) “Union Square,” NBC, 13.0, 12.6 million homes

11. (11) “Frasier,” NBC, 11.8, 11.4 million homes

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