MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- For nearly a decade, CBS won the Sunday ratings race based in part on the strength of "Touched by an Angel." It happened again Sunday night, only it wasn't Ireland's Roma Downey but Argentina's Angel Cabrera, whose dramatic Masters victory helped CBS win with the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic, as the network delivered an overall 2.9/8 rating and share, ahead of ABC and NBC (each 2.3/7), Fox (1.8/5) and the CW (0.3/1).
Cabrera worked overtime, and his sudden-death, two-hole-playoff golf victory pushed the Masters into prime time, scoring a 4.1/15 from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the highest-rated programming of the night. (It actually ran until 7:38 p.m., but until final Nielsen live-plus-same-day data are released today, all results are based on half-hour fast-affiliate ratings.) CBS followed the action in Augusta with "60 Minutes," but the big lead-in didn't seem to spike the news magazine's ratings, as its approximate 2.9/9 was right about at its season average. Despite the generation gulf between the "Amazing Race" and "60 Minutes," "Race" (2.9/8) had almost exactly the same rating as "60 Minutes." "Cold Case" (2.6/7) and "The Unit" (2.5/7 for the first half hour) followed.
Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" (3.0/8) was up 7% from last week and was the night's second-highest-rated program, seemingly benefiting from NBC moving previous lead-in "Kings" to Saturday night. Instead, NBC opted for a two-hour "Dateline" (1.6/5), and the scheduling proved savvy, as "Dateline" was up 23% from last week.
ABC, too, tinkered with its schedule, but mostly because a "Desperate Housewives" (1.5/4) rerun was shifted to the 10 p.m. time slot that usually belongs to "Brothers & Sisters." The network started out with a repeat as well ("America's Funniest Home Videos," 1.8/6) and in between ran a special two-hour version of reality show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (2.9/8), which delivered only 81% of its original-episode season average.
Fox and the CW avoided competing against Cabrera, let alone Easter dinners, by running reruns. For Fox, it was a lifeless night for the network's "animation domination": "American Dad," 0.8/3 at 7 p.m. and 2.1/5 at 9:30 p.m.; "King of the Hill," 1.4/5 at 7:30 p.m. and 2.0/6 an hour later; "The Simpsons," 2.2/7 at 8 p.m.; and "Family Guy," 2.5/7. The CW countered with "Jericho" (0.2/1) and a theatrical whose title could have described the action on the links as well as the schedule grid: "Cutthroat Island" (0.3/1).
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tonight on PBS, "Frontline" on promises to offer an intriguing look at how hard it is to win hearts and minds in hot spots Afghanistan and Pakistan, with "Children of the Taliban." And ABC is the yin to PBS's yang with the return of Jim Belushi in "According to Jim."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Week-two ratings for ABC's "Surviving Suburbia," which survived quite well by being a half-hour lead-out to "Dancing With the Stars," despite (or because of?) running against the NCAA basketball championship game on CBS.
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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)
John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.