LOS ANGELES — Stuck at home on a pandemic New Year's Eve, TV viewers turned to Ryan Seacrest, Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen in big numbers for a virtual celebration, with Times Square largely empty as the ball dropped.
ABC's "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" with host Seacrest drew 18.4 million viewers in the hour between 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. EST, an increase of 5% over 2020's audience.
CNN ushered in 2021 with its highest-rated New Year's Eve special on record, with 3.4 million people tuning in to share the evening hosted by Cooper and Cohen.
The ABC special's first hour and an episode of CBS' "60 Minutes" were the only non-football programs to make last week's top 20 list of most-watched shows, according to Nielsen figures released Wednesday.
NBC was the highest-rated broadcast network last week, averaging 4.6 million viewers in prime time. ABC had 4.1 million, CBS had 4 million, Fox had 2.8 million, Univision had 1.2 million, Ion Television had 980,000, Telemundo had 960,000 and MeTV had 740,000.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, watched by an average of 6.2 million people in prime time. Fox News Channel had 1.7 million viewers, CNN had 1.6 million, Hallmark had 1.42 million, MSNBC had 1.4 million, HGTV had 1.3 million and TNT had 1.2 million.
ABC's "World News Tonight" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 9.75 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" had 8.67 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.3 million.
For the week of Dec. 28 to Jan. 3, the 20 most popular prime-time programs, their networks and viewerships:
College Football Finals Semifinal: Ohio State at Clemson, ESPN, 18.9 million.
College Football Finals Semifinal: Notre Dame at Alabama, ESPN, 18.4 million.
College Football Finals Semifinal, ESPN, 16.6 million.
NBC Sunday Night Football, NBC, 16.5 million.
College Football Bowl Studio, ESPN, 16.1 million.
College Football Bowl Studio, ESPN, 14.4 million.
College Football Playoffs Semifinal, ESPN, 13.4 million
College Football Bowl Studio, ESPN, 13.5 million.
College Football Studio, ESPN, 12.3 million.
Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick, NBC, 12.1 million.
"Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve" (part 2), ABC, 11.2 million.
"60 Minutes," CBS, 10 million.
College Football Studio, ESPN, 9.8 million.
Football Night in America (part 3), NBC, 9.7 million.
The OT, Fox, 9.4 million.
Peach Bowl: Georgia at Cincinnati, ESPN, 8.41 million.
"Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve" (part 1), ABC, 8.4 million.
Orange Bowl: Texas A&M at North Carolina, ESPN, 7.58 million.
NFL Football: Buffalo at New England, ESPN, 7.6 million.
Monday Night Football (Dec. 28), ABC, 7.2 million.