TV Ratings: The Masters, NFL Slip Sunday

Dustin Johnson
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The Masters golf tournament has joined the list of pandemic-delayed sports broadcasts that suffered steep ratings declines. The NFL was also down year to year on Sunday, although it still dominated the broadcast landscape. On cable, Hallmark had its biggest "Countdown to Christmas" audience so far this season, while 60 Minutes and The Simpsons were the best of the primetime broadcast slate outside of football.

The final round of The Masters, which was delayed seven months due to the pandemic, drew 5.59 million viewers on CBS Sunday afternoon — a 48 percent drop from last year's closing round (10.81 million) and the smallest audience for the final round since at least 1995 (the earliest year for which total viewer numbers are available). It joins the NBA and NHL finals, baseball's World Series, horse racing's Triple Crown and golf's U.S. Open in suffering steep declines from last year.

The Masters broadcast meant CBS aired its NFL games in the 4 p.m. ET window. Fox, with the early afternoon to itself, recorded big year to year gains for its 1 p.m. slate: It averaged 18.24 million viewers for regional NFL coverage, a 73 percent jump over the same week of the NFL season last year. However, CBS' single window (10.34 million), Fox's late afternoon game (20.09 million) and NBC's primetime matchup (15.79 million) were all down double digits from 2019. The 64.46 million viewers across all four broadcast windows is off by about 10 percent from last year's 71.56 million.

In primetime, 60 Minutes finished second to NBC's Sunday Night Football in both total viewers (12.38 million) and adults 18-49 (1.5 rating). NCIS: Los Angeles (6.11 million viewers, 0.6 in 18-49) and NCIS: New Orleans (4.71 million, 0.4) were steady in viewers but lost some ground in the key ad demographic.

The Simpsons was the top entertainment show in adults 18-49 (1.3), with help from its NFL lead-in. Bless the Harts, Bob's Burgers and Family Guy (all 0.7) also improved. ABC's Supermarket Sweep ticked up in the demo to 0.8.

Hallmark's movie A Timeless Christmas drew 3.32 million viewers, the biggest tune-in for its slate of holiday films so far this season. It surpassed the 3.12 million people who watched One Royal Holiday on Oct. 31.

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