MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- It was a big night for survivors -- on CBS, of course, as "Survivor" had its season finale and "Reunion" show, but also on NBC. The network ran a game of survivor of its own, with the Dallas Cowboys staving off playoff elimination by beating the world champion New York Giants.
The game blitzed the game show, based on Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings (final live plus same-day data will be released Tuesday), as NBC's "Sunday Night Football" scored a 7.2/17 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, well above the 4.5/10 for "Survivor" and the 4.1/10 for the first half hour of "Survivor Gabon: Reunion."
Final ratings will reflect the post-11p.m. ending of the game, as well as the reunion show, which was delayed by an NFL overrun that spiked to 8.1/23 from 7-7:30 p.m. "60 Minutes" (4.6/12) followed and was up 84% from last week's version, which didn't have a late football game to kick in new viewers.
Not as strong a survivor
The "Survivor" finale was down 13% from last fall's final episode, but up 2% over spring 2007. (It's too early to completely compare the reunion show, as it ended well past the 11p.m. cutoff.)
So while still powerful, "Survivor" isn't thriving, which isn't surprising, given it was the 17th edition of the show. Still, it helped CBS finish second for the night with an overall 7-11p.m. 4.9/12.
Finishing first was NBC, with a genre that is thriving: NFL football. To be sure, it helps that the Cowboys and Giants are titans to football fans, and that a potential playoff stake was on the line. Indeed, it jumped 71% compared to last week's fast affiliate rating for the battle of The Beltway between the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens. The hype helped pre-game "Football Night in America" as well, as the 3.1/9 was 94% higher than last week's initial fast affiliate rating. For the night, NBC averaged a 6.2/15.
Other networks were lacking
Compared to CBS's finale and NBC's football, Fox, ABC and the CW punted. ABC moved its hit "Desperate Housewives" to 10 p.m., where a rerun delivered a 1.8/4. Holiday theatrical "The Santa Clause 2" delivered a 2.7/7 from 8-10 p.m., which was above the 2.1/6 for an original episode of "America's Funniest Home Videos." For the night, ABC averaged a third place 2.3/6.
Fox finished fourth with a 2.1/5, as the network not only missed last week's NFL overrun but lacked original episodes as well, running six straight reruns from 7-11p.m. ("King of the Hill," 1.7/5 and 1.6/4 from 7-8 p.m., "Simpsons" and "King of the Hill," 2.5/6 and 2.0/5 from 8-9 p.m., and "Family Guy" and "American Dad," 2.6/6 and 2.2/5 from 9-10 p.m.).
And the CW, while finishing fifth, is pulling a survivor act all its own. It once again doubled down on the program lineup outsourced to Media Rights Capital, as "Jericho" (.3/1) and theatrical "Spaceballs" (.5/1) survived with an overall .4/1.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Monday: It's the midseason finales for two sci-fi series: Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and NBC's "Heroes."
Tuesday: In the battle for TV's two new hits, it's advantage, CBS, as it runs an original episode of "The Mentalist" while Fox's "Fringe" is a repeat.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Lackluster ratings for "Heroes" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," as both have slipped commercially, if not creatively.
~ ~ ~
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.