NBC's first exhibition game of the season scored a 2.4/7 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, up 26% from the live-plus-same-day number for last year's Seattle vs. San Diego match-up. Of course, this is only 38% of NBC's regular season average of 6.3/16. But the first exhibition game of the year usually has the starters taking just a few snaps and then yielding to players about to be cut from the team. So it's a testament to the NFL that it was still the highest-rated show of the night, and combined with "Dateline's" 1.4/5 to give NBC an overall first place 2.1/7.
Second place went to Fox, which no doubt saw many of its young male base punt on the rerun schedule to go watch the NFL on NBC. Repeats of 'Til Death" (.7/3 at 7PM ET, .9/3 at 7:30), "The Simpsons" (1.7/6 at 8PM, 2.3/7 at 8:30), "Family Guy" (2.5/7) and "American Dad" (2.2/6) combined for a 1.7/5.
And despite a 15% jump for "Big Brother" (2.3/7), CBS got sacked, too with an overall 1.5/5 as repeats of "Million Dollar Password" (1.3/3) and "Cold Case" (1.3/4) had a hard time competing against the game. Earlier, "60 Minutes" delivered a 1.2/4.
ABC, the one network without an NFL stake now that cable sibling ESPN hosts "Monday Night Football," usually counter-programs with female-focused programs. Which can compete well with first runs, but the repeats of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (1.6/4) and "Desperate Housewives" (1.1/3) continued their summer struggles, as did first-run "High School Musical: Get in the Picture" (.9/3). Earlier, the one show that didn't have to run against the NFL, "America's Funniest Home Videos," won its 7 p.m. timeslot with a 1.6/6. For the night, ABC finished fourth with a 1.3/4.
The CW, meanwhile, finished last, and unlike the NFL, doesn't get a first-round draft choice because of it. Instead, it will try to rebuild on Sundays this fall by outsourcing its schedule to Media Rights Capital. It remains to be seen if the schedule can improve upon the CW's version, but the bar isn't high: The network delivered an overall .4/1, the same rating for repeats of "Everybody Hates Chris," Aliens in America," "The Game" and "Girlfriends." At 7 p.m. "One Tree Hill" delivered a .3/1.
Of course, as pleased as NBC must be to win Sunday night, it has other sports looming larger, at least for August: Starting Friday the network hopes to win weeks, not just nights, as "Are You Ready for some Football?" morphs into "Are You Ready for some Futbol?" or any other international sport that comprises the Olympic Games.
And if that doesn't work, perhaps NBC can get a piece of the action as the NFL combines this week's sports bookends: "The China Bowl," the first match-up of NFL teams in the world's most populous country, is tentatively scheduled for 2009 in Beijing.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Monday: Fox televises "The Teen Choice 2008" Awards.
Tuesday: Remember the days when there were independent TV stations with "John Wayne Week?" Those days may be gone, but AMC reinstates, if not reinvents the movie event with a week's worth of Duke: "El Dorado," "Hatari," "Rio Bravo," "Hondo" and the seminal "The Searchers" run throughout the day into primetime.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: With teens choosing computer or mobile screens instead of TV ones, how many will choose "The Teen Choice Awards?"
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NOTE: A share is a percentage of TV households that have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all TV households, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. households 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.