TV Ratings: Miss Universe Dips a Little in Fox Move — But Goes Viral

Miss Universe 2015 - H 2015
Associated Press

Well, that's one way to draw attention to a pageant.

Sunday saw the official move of the Miss Universe pageant from NBC to Fox; like Miss USA, a broadcast home for the event was up in the air after July's tumultuous breakup between the franchise, former owner Donald Trump and longtime partner NBCUniversal. And while ratings slid a little, year-to-year, the viral afterlife will probably make it one of the most memorable outings the beauty competition has ever seen.

The three-hour Fox telecast averaged 6.2 million viewers and a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49, though that was before Steve Harvey's gaffe set the Internet on fire. The host announced the wrong winner, runner-up Colombia instead of the Philippines, and didn't correct himself until after the wrong woman was already wearing the crown. Unauthorized clips are already generating millions of views on YouTube and other sites.

Last year's Miss Universe pageant had the fortunate distinction of airing in late January, without any NFL competition. It averaged 7.7 million viewers and a 2.0 rating in the key demo. Few likely expected Sunday's outing to bring in nearly such ratings against Sunday Night Football and NFL overrun, so the performance is a best-case scenario for the network.

As for NBC's big game, the Arizona Cardinals easy victory over the Philadelphia Eagles averaged a 11.5 rating among households. That barely put the network ahead of CBS for primetime, with the latter seeing huge numbers for NFL overrun (a 16.5 household rating in the 7 p.m. hour) that boosted an original outings of 60 Minutes (2.6 adults) and Undercover Boss. That garnered a 1.4 rating in the key demo, while the fall finale of CSI: Cyber (1.1 adults) grew three-tenths of a point from its most recent outing.