'The Masked Singer' hopes to take advantage of rare edge

Host Nick Cannon, left, with Lil Wayne in the third season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” which aired on Sunday after the Super Bowl.

NEW YORK — Fox will find out soon whether “The Masked Singer” benefits from the best time slot in television.

A new episode of the game, usually Fox’s most popular prime-time program or close to it, airs on Wednesday. A special edition of the show, with Lil’ Wayne as the mystery guest, had its biggest audience ever Sunday when 23.7 million people watched it, the Nielsen company said.

That’s because it aired after the Super Bowl, traditionally television’s best-watched event by far, and a certain number of viewers don’t turn off the TV after the game is over. If there’s one thing that unites all prime-time television producers, it’s the fervent wish to be plugged into a network lineup on Super Sunday.

Networks have used the time slots for high-profile launches of new series or, more commonly, to introduce an already popular show to an audience that might not otherwise know about it.

The game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers — not to mention an explosive halftime show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira — was seen by an average of 99.9 million people. That was a slight increase over the 2019 game, ending a four-year run of declining viewership for the NFL’s marquee event.

The game lifted Fox to an average of 13.3 million viewers in prime-time last week. CBS was second with 4 million viewers, NBC had 2.7 million, ABC had 2.6 million, ION Television had 1 million, Univision had 990,000, Telemundo had 720,000 and the CW had 500,000.

Fox News Channel led all of the cable networks with an average of 2.84 million viewers in prime-time, and had 38 of the 40 most-watched programs on cable TV last week. ESPN was second with an average of 2.66 million viewers, MSNBC had 1.79 million, Hallmark had 1.47 million and TLC had 1.22 million.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” led the evening newscasts with an average of 9.1 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” was second with 7.9 million and the “CBS Evening News” 5.9 million viewers.

For the week of Jan. 27-Feb. 2, the top 10 shows, the networks and their viewerships:

1. Super Bowl: Kansas City vs. San Francisco, Fox, 99.9 million.

2. “Super Bowl Post-Game” (10:11 to 10:21 p.m. Eastern), Fox, 83.51 million.

3. “Super Bowl Post-Game” (10:22 to 10:39 p.m.), Fox, 57.04 million.

4. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 23.7 million.

5. “NCIS,” CBS, 12.13 million.

6. “FBI,” CBS, 9.27 million.

7. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 8.65 million.

8. “Hawaii Five-0,” CBS, 7.56 million.

9. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 7.53 million.

10. “America’s Got Talent Champions,” 7.35 million.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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