MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- NFL football loomed over Sunday's ratings results. Even when there wasn't a game on.
First Fox had the NFL overrun of Minnesota Viking Brett Favre's homecoming game in Green Bay against his former team, the Packers. Final live-plus-same-day data released Tuesday will reveal ratings for the exact prime-time overrun, but for now the most accurate ratings reflection is for 7-7:30 p.m., which scored an 11.2/30 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. Post-game wrap-up show "The O.T." followed, with 7:30-8 p.m. notching a 6.5/17.
Fox's football not only sacked CBS's "60 Minutes" (2.1/6) and ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" (2.0/5), but NBC's rival NFL wrap-up, "Football Night in America" (.8/2), as most football fans stuck with the real thing rather than an analysis of the day's games.
Then, for the only Sunday night during the regular season, NBC's "Sunday Night Football" didn't run, in order to make way for Fox's coverage of World Series Game 4 (6.9/17 from 8-11 p.m, which will probably rise, given the ninth inning Yankee win), which gave context to just how much NBC is going to miss football.
NBC is really going to miss its Sunday night games, at least based on the 1.7/4 for 2005 theatrical "National Treasure," which was only about 23% of the regular rating for "Sunday Night Football." And once the final whistle of the regular season sounds, the gridless-grid will feature a two hour version of "Celebrity Apprentice." But at least among its "celebrities" are three athletes -- former baseball player Darryl Strawberry, former Olympian Michael Johnson and former wrestler Bill Goldberg -- whose most recent prime-time prominence is more evocative of ESPN Classic than NFL on NBC.
Accordingly, NBC finished fourth with a 1.4/4. CBS (2.2/5) was third, as "60 Minutes" was followed by "Amazing Race" (3.2/8, just a tenth of a ratings point below its season average) and two shows that may not even give "Celebrity Apprentice" a run for its money next January, "Three Rivers" (1.7/4) and "Cold Case" (1.6/4).
ABC was third with a 3.4/8, as "Videos" lead-out "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" tied a season high 3.4/8 and "Desperate Housewives" (4.9/11) and "Brothers and Sisters" (3.3/9) were up 4% and 3%, respectively, over their season averages.
But with regular ratings winner NBC falling to fourth and with Fox finishing first with a 7-11 p.m. average of 7.7/19, the season average that really counts is the regular season ratings of the NFL, which by its presence -- or by its absence -- is the defining dynamic in the demographic ratings race.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Monday: So OK, we're having a sports moment. Why fight it? Jump on the bandwagon by surfing between Game 5 of the World Series and ESPN's Monday Night Football game between the undefeated New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons.
Tuesday: A different kind of battle than sports as alien invaders are the focus of the program premiere of ABC's new version of "V."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Some sports weary viewers to win the competition over the remote control and make CBS's sitcom lineup the night's winner.
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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.