Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Professional football is a popular television attraction

(Credit: Watchdog)

I tried (and failed) to avoid bogging down my Friday newspaper column about the NFL's television popularity with too many numbers, causing readers' eyes to glaze over.

It could have been worse, as I have more where those came from.

For example: Through the first 15 weeks of the current NFL season, the league's TV slots averaged 16.7 million viewers, compared to 9.1 for the average show on prime time TV.

Five years ago, that gap was significantly smaller - 15.5 million to 9.9 million.

More: The six "60 Minutes" telecasts that had a lead-in from a national doubleheader game on CBS averaged 18.7 million viewers. The other seven averaged 13.2 million.

More: NFL games have been the highest-rated show of the week in their local market 87 percent of the time (in markets with an NFL team) this season, compared to 73 percent five years ago and 55 percent seven years ago.

More: click below.Here is a list of the 15 most-watched TV shows for the autumn of 2008:

1. FOX (mostly Cowboys-Steelers), Dec. 7, 25.7 million

2. CBS (Broncos-Jets & Pats-Steelers), Nov. 30, 25.5 million

3. CBS (mostly Patriots-Jets), Sept. 14, 25.2 million

4. "60 Minutes" (Obama interview), Nov. 16, 25.1 million

5. CBS (mostly Steelers-Ravens), Dec. 14, 24.4 million

6. FOX (mostly Cowboys-Cardinals), Oct. 12, 23.7 million

7. "CSI" (season premiere), Oct. 9, 23.5 million

8. FOX (mostly Cowboys-Giants), Nov. 2, 23.3 million

9. FOX (mostly Giants-Cardinals), Nov. 23, 23.3 million

10. CBS (mostly Colts-Packers), Oct. 19, 23.2 million

11. NBC (Giants-Cowboys), Dec. 14, 23.1 million

12. FOX (Seahawks-Cowboys), Nov. 27, 22.7 million

13. CBS (mostly Colts-Steelers), Nov. 9, 22.4 million

14. FOX (mostly Giants-Steelers), Oct. 26, 22.3 million

15. NBC (Cowboys-Packers), Sept. 21, 22.2 million

In the fall of 2003, no NFL game cracked the top 14 on the list, which included 10 "CSI" episodes, one "Friends" episode, the "Survivor" season finale and Game 7 of the Red Sox-Yankees and Marlins-Cubs League Championship Series.

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