Kavanaugh's victory after a lengthy confirmation battle benefited the network that's a favorite of people friendly to his cause. Fox reached 4.34 million viewers for the Senate vote. Rivals CNN and MSNBC combined had less than half of that audience, as many of Kavanaugh's opponents clearly couldn't stomach watching the vote.
It was closer on Friday for what proved the decisive moment — when Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced her choice, insuring that Kavanaugh's nomination would succeed. At that hour, Fox had 3.27 million viewers, CNN had 1.37 million and MSNBC had 1.36 million, Nielsen said.
Kavanaugh's nomination received more coverage on the broadcast evening news programs than any other Supreme Court nominee over the past 30 years, topping the proceedings involving Clarence Thomas, according to news consultant Andrew Tyndall.
Those numbers don't even take into account cable news and its endless coverage; Fox and MSNBC didn't exist at the time of Thomas' nomination. Meanwhile, NBC scored a prime-time victory over CBS for the second week of the television season.
Sunday night NFL football on NBC provided the margin, but the network is also showing strength with its entertainment offerings. The new drama "Manifest" appears to be a hit. Its debut episode was watched some eight million times within a week on a time-shifted basis, second only to "Roseanne" for the biggest such "lift" for a show ever recorded.
For the week, NBC averaged 7.5 million viewers in prime-time. CBS was second with 6.9 million, Fox had 6 million, ABC had 4.7 million, Univision had 1.3 million, Telemundo and the ION Network tied with 1.19 million and the CW had 700,000.
Fox News was the most popular cable network, averaging 3.38 million viewers in prime-time. ESPN was second with 3.21 million, TBS had 2.98 million, MSNBC had 1.72 million and USA had 1.12 million. ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.1 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" was second with 7.6 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.7 million.
For the week of Oct. 1-7, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Dallas at Houston, NBC, 18.59 million; NFL Football: Kansas City at Denver, ESPN, 13.54 million; NFL Football: Indianapolis at New England, Fox, 13.27 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 12.82 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 12.3 million; "NCIS," CBS, 12.13 million; "The OT," Fox, 10.75 million; "Young Sheldon," CBS, 10.69 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 10.06 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday, NBC, 9.4 million.
ABC and ESPN are 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.