Janet Jackson doc, despite criticism, a hit for Lifetime

FILE - Janet Jackson arrives at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York on March 29, 2019. This past weekend's Janet Jackson documentary was the most popular non-fiction show on Lifetime since its 'Surviving R. Kelly' documentary three years ago. The Nielsen company said roughly 4 million people watched on live television, digitally or on demand in the first few days it was out, numbers that are only expected to grow. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) (Evan Agostini, Invision)

NEW YORK – Janet Jackson's four-part documentary on Lifetime was the network's most-watched non-fiction show since “Surviving R. Kelly” three years ago, and viewership is continuing to grow.

The documentary series debuted Friday and Saturday night on Lifetime and was simulcast on the A&E network. With the musician and her manager-brother Randy listed as executive producers, the series was an intriguing look at a reclusive singer yet also received criticism for issues skirted or left out entirely.

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The first part on Friday was seen by 2.8 million people on live TV, and another 1.2 million in the next few days either digitally or on demand, the Nielsen company said. Part two had a similar viewership of 4.3 million, Part three had 3.7 million and the final part had 3.8 million.

Those numbers are expected to grow with delayed viewing over the next few weeks.

Fox News Channel seems to have minted a new star. Jesse Watters' debut week at the 7 p.m. Eastern slot reached an average of 3.26 million people, well above the 1.87 million Fox reached last year in that time slot with a rotating set of hosts. Watters' show reached more than Joy Reid on MSNBC and Erin Burnett on CNN combined, Nielsen said.

Given that Watters is also one of the hosts of “The Five" on Fox, he was featured on nine of the top 15 programs on cable news last week, including the top four, Nielsen said.

The successful launch of Watters' show comes as Fox News marked a milestone last week: 20 straight years as the top-ranked cable news network.

The NFL — and television networks — were blessed with two more thrilling games for the conference championships. Fox's telecast of the NFC game between the L.A. Rams and San Francisco was seen by 50.2 million people, up 7% from last year's NFC tilt. The AFC game between Cincinnati and Kansas City reached 47.9 million, up 13% from 2021.

With a prime-time playoff game, Fox easily won the week with an 11.3 million viewer average. CBS had 4.4 million, ABC had 2.8 million, NBC had 2.4 million, Univision had 1.6 million, Ion Television had 1.2 million and Telemundo had 1.1 million.

Fox News Channel led the cable networks with a 2.38 million average in prime time. HGTV had 1.22 million, MSNBC had 1.21 million, Hallmark had 946,000 and TNT had 942,000.

ABC's “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race, averaging 9 million viewers for the week. NBC's “Nightly News” had 7.9 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.6 million.

For the week of Jan. 24-30, the 20 most popular shows in prime time, their networks and viewerships:

1. NFC Championship: San Francisco at L.A. Rams, Fox, 50.23 million.

2. “NFC Championship Post-Game,” Fox, 26.52 million.

3. “Next Level Chef,” Fox, 8.11 million.

4. “NCIS,” CBS, 7.79 million.

5. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 7.73 million.

6. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 6.86 million.

7. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 6.39 million.

8. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 6.1 million.

9. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 5.86 million.

10. “United States of Al,” CBS, 5.57 million.

11. “NCIS: Hawai'i,” CBS, 5.41 million.

12. “911: Lone Star,” Fox, 5.39 million.

13. “FBI,” CBS, 5.35 million.

14. “Magnum, P.I.,” CBS, 5.22 million.

15. “B Positive” (Thursday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 4.96 million.

16. “This is Us,” NBC, 4.76 million.

17. “B Positive” (Thursday, 9:30 p.m.), CBS, 4.72 million.

18. “60 Minutes” (Sunday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 4.67 million.

19. “Let's Make a Deal,” CBS, 4.51 million.

20. “Judge Steve Harvey,” ABC, 4.17 million.

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