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Sunday Night Football trounces MLB playoffs in ratings battle

The Los Angeles Dodgers played for their season Sunday night on Fox the seventh game of the National League Championship Series. Win and go to the World Series, lose and go home.

At the same time, the Los Angeles Rams played a regular season game on NBC against the San Francisco 49ers, a loss that dropped the Rams to a 4-2 record.

There's no question which game meant more. But for a national audience, the football game was watched by 12.6 million people, while 9.7 million tuned in to see the Dodgers complete a memorable comeback against the Atlanta Braves.

There's no clearer illustration of how football is the more popular sport, and why networks line up with open checkbooks whenever television rights come due.

Baseball, despite its reputation as the National Pastime, is more of a local attraction. People have a limited interest if their favorite team is not involved.

Case in point: the Los Angeles market. The Nielsen company said that in that city, 7.6 percent of the homes with televisions watched the Rams on Sunday night. But 18.5 percent of L.A. TV homes were tuned in to the Dodgers.

Television's other big competition last week was Thursday's dueling town halls with President Donald Trump on NBC and Democratic opponent Joe Biden on ABC. In an upset — since the former reality TV star president has always had drawing power — Biden won, 14.2 million viewers to 13.5 million.

Fox was the most popular broadcast network last week, averaging 5.2 million viewers. CBS had 4.9 million, ABC had 4.6 million, NBC had 4.5 million, Ion Television had 1.2 million, Univision had 1.1 million and Telemundo had 920,000.

Fox News Channel led the cable networks, averaging 4.25 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 2.27 million, ESPN had 2.02 million, TBS had 1.99 million and CNN had 1.83 million.

For the week of Oct. 12-18, the top 20 television programs, their networks and viewerships:

1. Town Hall: Joe Biden, ABC, 14.15 million.

2. Town Hall: Donald Trump, NBC, 13.49 million.

3. NFL Football: L.A. Rams at San Francisco, NBC, 12.6 million.

4. NFL Football: L.A. Chargers at New England, ESPN, 11.2 million.

5. NFL Football: Buffalo at Tennessee, CBS, 10.87 million.

6. “The OT,” Fox, 10.62 million.

7. NLCS: Atlanta vs. Los Angeles, Game 7, Fox, 9.66 million.

8. College Football: Georgia at Alabama, CBS, 9.61 million.

9. “Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick,” NBC, 9.26 million.

10. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 9.1 million.

11. “Baseball Pregame,” Fox, 8.72 million.

12. “Football Night in America,” NBC, 7.15 million.

13. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 6.5 million.

14. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 6.26 million.

15. “Monday Night Kickoff,” ESPN, 5.98 million.

16. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Wednesday), Fox News, 5.87 million.

17. “Hannity” (Thursday), Fox News, 5.86 million.

18. “Hannity” (Wednesday), Fox News, 5.44 million.

19. “Hannity” (Tuesday), Fox News, 5.34 million.

20. “Tucker Carlson Tonight" (Tuesday), Fox News, 5.17 million.

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