Nielsen ratings: Johnny Football overshadows Jack Bauer

NEW YORK — The employment future of Johnny Manziel overshadowed Jack Bauer’s return to television.

ESPN’s coverage of the first round of the NFL draft last Thursday was watched by just under 10 million viewers, easily the most ever for the annual event, the Nielsen company said. That was largely due to the drama surrounding former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Manziel, who was expected to be a top draft pick but slipped nearly to the end of the first round before being taken by the Cleveland Browns.

Nielsen said Thursday’s draft coverage generated more than 7 million tweets; no other TV show during the week even reached two million.

Meanwhile, Nielsen said that 8.1 million people watched the debut of “24: Live Another Day,” the miniseries that brought “24” lead character Bauer back to Fox’s schedule. That made it Fox’s most-watched show of the week, and compared to the series average of 9.3 million viewers in 2009-10, its last season on the air.

Although last week’s reemergence wasn’t enough to rank “24: Live Another Day” in Nielsen’s top 20 programs for the week, it was ranked No. 5 among the 18-to-49-year-old audience that Fox cares most about.

The “24” return is the first in a line of limited-run series that Fox will be trying in the next few years, with fewer episodes than more traditional series and modeled after an approach taken by many cable networks. Filming is already complete for two new miniseries, Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly said.

As is usually the case when they air original episodes, CBS’ “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory” were the most popular programs on television last week.

CBS won the week with an average of 8.4 million viewers in prime time. ABC had 6.3 million and led among the 18-to-49-year-old demo. NBC had 5.3 million viewers, Fox had 4.7 million, Univision had 2.8 million, the CW had 1.4 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and ION Television had 880,000.

TNT was the week’s most popular cable network, averaging 3.25 million viewers in prime time. ESPN had 2.46 million, USA had 1.85 million, History had 1.69 million and the Disney Channel had 1.62 million.

NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.2 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” was second with 7.4 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million viewers.

For the week of May 5-11, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “NCIS,” CBS, 15.88 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 14.42 million; “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 14.11 million; “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 13.12 million; “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 11.78 million; “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 11 million; “The Voice” (Tuesday), NBC, 10.72 million; “Criminal Minds,” CBS, 10.52 million; “Person of Interest,” CBS, 10.5 million; “The Blacklist,” NBC, 10.47 million.

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