How the NFL Dominated TV in 2013

Nine of the top 10 broadcasts this year were football games. But what about 'American Idol' and the 'Breaking Bad' finale?

Super Bowl XLVII New Orleans
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
106 million people watched Super Bowl XLVII's delayed broadcast.
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Nine out of the Top 10 most-watched TV broadcasts in 2013 were football games – the lone non-football program on Nielsen's year-end report was the Oscars. The statistics company explained in its overview that football's ubiquity has become de rigueur for their annual list, which this year measured viewership between December 31st, 2012 and December 8th, 2013.

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Unsurprisingly, the most-watched program overall was Super Bowl XLVII, which attracted over 108 million viewers, and nearly twice that if you combine its viewership with the over 106 million people who tuned in for the delayed broadcast, which was Number Two on the list. The next two positions on the list were claimed by the Super Bowl's post- and pre-game shows respectively, each of which were watched by over 63 million people.

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The 85th Academy Awards occupied the list's Number Seven position, thanks to the over 40 million movie fans and star watchers who tuned in. Last year, the Grammy Awards infiltrated the list, with 40 million viewers – which set a record for being the most watched Grammys telecast – but this year it did not make the cut. Still, the 28 million people who watched that show this year constitute its second-best ratings ever, according to CBS News.

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Beyond football and awards shows, the most-watched primetime TV show was NCIS. That show attracted an average of 14 million viewers an episode, but still came in at Number Four on Nielsen's primetime chart, trailing Sunday Night Football, the pre-kickoff telecast and Fox's post-game analysis show The OT. Dancing With the Stars came in at Number Five, with nearly 14 million average viewers (its results show came in at Number 10), American Idol's Wednesday and Thursday broadcasts occupy Numbers Seven and Nine on the list and The Big Bang Theory was the sole sitcom to rank, coming in at Number Eight with over 13 million viewers on average. The latter marked the first time a sitcom has ranked in "a number of years," according to Nielsen.

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The company also charted "time-shifted viewing," or shows that people watch as video content as opposed to a first-time broadcast. NBC's Blacklist claimed the top spot on the list, as it attracted 7.8 million viewers in the week that followed original broadcast. Other shows on the time-shifted list include The Following, Under the Dome, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Sleepy Hollow, among others.

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For the first time this year, Nielsen has also measured social-media chatter related to television shows on a chart called the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings. Breaking Bad tops the list, thanks to the six million or so people "viewing tweets" about each episode of the series' final season. Other shows on the Twitter list include a mix of cable and over-the-air series like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story: Coven, Scandal and Glee, among others.

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