NEW YORK — Football and CBS — sometimes both —dominated ratings during the second week of the television season.
Increasingly, though, the Nielsen company's weekly list of most popular programs is most valuable as a first draft report on how the business is going.
Each Tuesday, Nielsen releases data on how many people watched programs the previous week on the night they first aired. Later reports pick up on how many people watch on a time-delayed basis, and that often changes the picture dramatically.
For instance, two football games topped the ratings in last week's report. But when Nielsen's count of people who watched a program within three days — instead of just the first night — was added in, the CBS comedy "The Big Bang Theory" gained 28 percent in viewership to move into first place.
Fox's hit "Empire" had 16.2 million viewers its first night, and increased to 20.8 million with the next two days figured in, Nielsen said.
ABC's new drama "Quantico" had a modest 7.1 million viewers its first night, but jumped 56 percent to 11.2 million within three days. ABC's "Scandal," ''Modern Family" and "How to Get Away With Murder" all increased their audience by more than one-third within three days.
Fox's much-hyped "Scream Queens" had 4 million viewers initially, and jumped to a more respectable 6.2 million within three days.
"Fewer people are watching live TV," said Marc Berman, editor-in-chief of TV Media Insights.
Two NFL games, which are seen almost exclusively live, were the two most-watched programs on last week's Nielsen list. Eleven of the 12 most popular scripted shows were on CBS, led by old reliables "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory."
For the week, CBS averaged 10.3 million viewers. NBC had 9.3 million, and won among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers that advertisers consider most valuable. ABC had 6.8 million, Fox had 5.3 million, Univision had 2.2 million, Telemundo had 1.3 million, ION Television had 1.04 million and the CW had 1.02 million.
ESPN was the most popular cable network in prime time, averaging 2.92 million viewers. Fox News Channel had 1.91 million, USA had 1.65 million, Disney had 1.48 million and TBS had 1.3 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.6 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 8.5 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.2 million viewers.
For the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 4, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Dallas at New Orleans, NBC, 24.18 million; NFL Football: Baltimore at Pittsburgh, CBS, 19.44 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 17.85 million; "NCIS," CBS, 16.53 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 15.23 million; "Empire," Fox, 13.74 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 13.6 million; NFL Football: Kansas City at Green Bay, ESPN, 13.51 million; "The OT," Fox, 13.28 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 12.86 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.