TV shows ride sports’ coattails to boost viewership

While it’s no surprise the NFL occupied the top spots among the 50 most-watched telecasts of the first quarter, the power of the shield is evident even with scripted shows orbiting NFL football.

The bar to make the top 50 was around 7.2 million viewers. The NFL accounted for 20 of the 50 top programs in the first quarter, including each of the top 10. But among the nine scripted TV shows that made the top 50, a number of those got a major lift from being around NFL games.

The always coveted post-Super Bowl spot was a boon for “Tracker” on CBS, which has become the No. 1 new TV show. That post-Super Bowl slot, even with an 11:30 p.m. ET start, gave the show’s pilot the No. 24 spot overall in the first quarter, and subsequently helped it get four slots overall on the list. That’s tied with “60 Minutes” for the most of any non-sports programming of the quarter. CBS also landed one episode of “Fire Country” on the list (at No. 49), as that show aired after the Chiefs-Bills AFC divisional game on Jan. 21.

Fox got one non-sports show in the top 50 — an episode of “Next Level Chef” that followed the NFC Championship on Jan. 28.

Beyond the NFL, men’s March Madness put nine games in the top 50. An episode of “60 Minutes” rode the coattails of an N.C. State-Duke Elite Eight game to the No. 30 spot. All three CFP games made the top 50 as well (the Michigan-Alabama semifinal was the best non-NFL sports telecast).

The best non-sports telecast was the State of the Union on March 7. The Oscars, Golden Globes and Grammy Awards also made the list (the Emmys on Fox was not close).

Among the sports telecasts missing the list was the Iowa-Colorado women’s Sweet 16 game (or any women’s hoops game). The women’s Elite Eight and Final Four will certainly look to grab a few spots in the second quarter. A Monday running of the Daytona 500 in February already has that event outside the top 100.

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