Unusual 'Bachelor' finale pays off for ABC in ratings race

NEW YORK — An unusual ending to ABC's long-running attempted love matches on "The Bachelor" paid off for the network.

Both parts of the finale to the 23rd edition of the series hit the Nielsen company's top 10 last week, as bachelor Colton Underwood — who started his reign as a virgin — revealed he was dating contestant Cassie Randolph.

That wasn't initially the plan, since Underwood jumped a fence to abandon the two women who had been finalists to chase Randolph, who had left the show.

The show's performance led ABC to its fourth weekly win in a row among viewers aged 18-to-49, the demographic its advertisers chase. That's ABC's longest streak among this group in nearly four years.

CBS won the week among all viewers, averaging 6 million people watching in prime time. ABC had 5.1 million, NBC had 4.5 million, Fox had 2.7 million, Univision and ION Television tied with 1.37 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and the CW had 900,000.

Fox News Channel was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.33 million viewers in prime time. ESPN had 1.94 million, MSNBC had 1.82 million, HGTV had 1.28 million and History had 1.22 million.

ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.6 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" had 8.2 million viewers and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.1 million.

For the week of March 11-17, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "NCIS," CBS, 12.08 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 10.54 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 10.1 million; "FBI," CBS, 8.96 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 8.47 million; "Bachelor Season Finale" (Tuesday), ABC, 8.24 million; "The Bachelor" (Monday), ABC, 8.16 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 7.84 million; "The Good Doctor," ABC, 7.78 million; "This is Us," NBC, 7.75 million.

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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.

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Online: http://www.nielsen.com

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