NEW YORK (AP) — Television viewers are feeling the spirit of the season.
Two of the four most-watched cable channels last week, Hallmark and Freeform, devote their prime-time schedules to holiday-themed programming this time of year. Hallmark turns on the tinsel for November and December and generally sees the network's best ratings of the year.
For the broadcast networks, a holiday special by the musicians Pentatonix reached 7.5 million people last week and highlights of "Saturday Night Live" Christmas shows were seen by 5.7 million people. Many of the regularly-scheduled prime-time shows had holiday themes.
A study by the Nielsen company found that some 217 million people watched at least a minute of holiday-themed programming on television last year. And while it's prime family viewing, nostalgia counts for something, too: Nielsen found that people aged 55 and up watched more holiday programming than any other age group.
Another seasonal activity — watching football — led NBC to a dominant win last week among the broadcast networks.
NBC averaged 10 million viewers in prime-time last week. CBS had 8.8 million, ABC had 4.5 million, Fox had 2.7 million, Univision had 1.7 million, Telemundo had 1.5 million, ION Television had 1.4 million and the CW had 1.1 million.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.55 million viewers in prime time. Hallmark had 2.36 million, Fox News Channel had 2.34 million, Freeform had 1.77 million and USA had 1.54 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.2 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 9 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.5 million viewers.
For the week of Dec. 12-18, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Tampa Bay at Dallas, NBC, 24.15 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 16.92 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 15.96 million; "NCIS," CBS, 14.76 million; NFL Football: Los Angeles at Seattle, NBC, 14.65 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 14.09 million; NFL Football: Baltimore at New England, ESPN, 12.92 million; "Football Night in America," NBC, 12.49 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 12.14 million; "Bull," CBS, 11.62 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.