Bastille performs on stage at the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square on Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Joe Russo/Invision/AP)

New Year's Eve television viewership takes a dip

January 02, 2019 - 4:41 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Television ratings for New Year's Eve celebrations took a tumble this year — and you can probably partly blame the weather.

Contrary to what the soggy celebrants in New York's Times Square might think, it is because of good weather. Last year's ABC's "New Year's Rockin' Eve" had its biggest audience since at least 1991 with much of the country locked in a deep freeze and potential partygoers wanting to stay home and keep warm.

This year, viewership for ABC's prime-time New Year's show with Ryan Seacrest averaged 9.1 million people, down 26 percent from last year's 12.3 million, the Nielsen company said. Fox's prime-time show with Steve Harvey was down 47 percent to 3.1 million people, although last year's numbers were inflated because Harvey came on directly after an NFL game.

Nielsen did not immediately have viewership numbers for late-night coverage when the ball dropped at midnight to signify the arrival of 2019. But in a preliminary sampling of the nation's largest television markets showed similar declines to earlier in the evening. ABC's late-night coverage was down 27 percent from the previous year, while Fox was down 22 percent, Nielsen said.

NBC's prime-time New Year's Eve program with Carson Daly and Chrissy Teigen was seen by 4.8 million people. The network didn't have similar programming last year.

Sports dominated an otherwise quiet week in television, with ESPN's prime-time ratings topping all of the broadcast networks. The college football playoff semifinals were the most popular programs, led by the 18.5 million people who watched Alabama beat Oklahoma.

For the week, NBC averaged 5.2 million viewers in prime time. CBS had 4.6 million, ABC had 3.2 million, Fox had 2.9 million, ION Television had 1.3 million, Univision had 1.1 million, Telemundo had 960,000 and the CW had 680,000.

ESPN's audience topped all of the broadcast and cable networks, with a 5.73 prime time average. The other top cable networks were Hallmark with 1.95 million, USA with 1.28 million, Fox News Channel with 1.24 million and HGTV with 1.18 million.

ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.8 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" had 8 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6 million.

For the week of Dec. 24-30, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: College Football Playoff: Oklahoma vs. Alabama, ESPN, 18.49 million; College Football Playoff: Notre Dame vs. Clemson, ESPN, 16.28 million; "Orange Bowl Pregame," ESPN, 16.23 million; "Orange Bowl Postgame," ESPN, 16.07 million; NFL Football: Indianapolis at Tennessee, NBC, 16.05 million; "Cotton Bowl Postgame, ESPN, 15.15 million; "NFL Pregame," NBC, 11.54 million; "The OT," Fox, 9.58 million; "Football Night in America," NBC, 8.98 million; NFL Football: Denver at Oakland, ESPN, 8.71 million.

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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.

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