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Rash Report: Broncos Beat Patriots, Colts Beat Titans and Football Tackles Prime Time Again

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- For years, Sunday prime time seemed made for made-for-TV movies -- often there were three scheduled on the Big Three networks. What a difference a generation -- and a genre -- makes.

'Sunday Night Football' on NBC saw the Indianapolis Colts defeat the Tennessee Titans.
'Sunday Night Football' on NBC saw the Indianapolis Colts defeat the Tennessee Titans. Credit: AP
Because instead what dominated the demo most important to advertisers, adults 18-49, was a game with timeless appeal and a show that was clearly ahead of its time, as a CBS NFL overrun and NBC's "Sunday Night Football" scored highest, while Fox's "Family Guy," an animated sitcom, was the top-rated scripted series of the night.

NBC won the night overall with a 4.5/12 rating and share, with pre-game "Football Night in America" averaging a 3.0/8 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., followed by a 5.5/14 for the Sunday Night game, in which a blowout by the Indianapolis Colts over the Tennessee Titans may have deflated the demo delivery compared to previous weeks (final live-plus-same-day data will be released Tuesday and take into account the post-11 p.m. portion).

CBS was second with a 3.6/9. Its prime time kicked off with an NFL overrun of an overtime thriller, in which the Denver Broncos beat the New England Patriots. It concluded at 7:43p.m., so because fast affiliate data only separates by half hour, not show, the CBS lineup approximated as follows: NFL, 6.6/19 from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; NFL/"60 Minutes," 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., 4.7/13; "60 Minutes"/"Amazing Race," 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., 3.1/8; "Amazing Race"/"Three Rivers," 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., 1.9/5; "Three Rivers"/"Cold Case," 10:30 p.m. to 11p.m., 1.7/5.

ABC also had a sports overrun, but the 2.5/8 for Nascar from 7 p.m. to 7:30p.m. reconfirms its place in America's sports hierarchy. And its place in pop-culture hierarchy suffered a jolt as well, as "Desperate Housewives" (4.4/10) lost to Fox's "The Family Guy" (4.5/11). While only a tenth of a ratings point (and indeed, live-plus-same-day data may rearrange ratings), it's the pop cultural culmination of a remarkable ride for "Family Guy."

Originally picked to premiere in a post-Super Bowl slot a decade ago, "The Family Guy" was too edgy for, well, families, but was embraced by the college crowd that rediscovered the show via DVD and cable after it was canceled. Fox renewed it, but in a case of an audience coming around to a show, as opposed to the show itself retooling, "The Family Guy" is now a mainstream hit.

And its creator, Seth McFarlane, has two other successful slots on Fox's "animation domination" lineup, including "Family Guy" lead-in "The Cleveland Show" (3.8/10) and lead-out "American Dad" (3.4/8). Both "Family Guy" and its spin-off "Cleveland" even beat "The Simpsons" (3.6/10), the animated comedy that generated the genre.

Rash gridsEnlarge
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

Overall, however, Fox finished fourth with a 3.0/8, mostly because its younger male viewers were, of course, watching football instead of reruns of "Brothers" (1.1/3) and "Cleveland" (1.7/5) from 7 p.m. to 8p.m. ABC was third with a 3.2/8, as a half-hour version of "America's Funniest" (2.2/6) led into "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (off 12% from last week to a 3.0/8) and "Brothers and Sisters" (2.9/8, off 9%).

Oh, and as for those made-for-TV movies? Well the closest version now on is CBS's melodramatic medical drama "Three Rivers." While final numbers won't be known until tomorrow, many today can look at the network's fourth place finish in its timeslot and realize that change may be coming there, as well.

Monday: PBS pivots from National Parks to "Latin Music USA" ... Tuesday: ... to foreign wars, as "Frontline" examines Afghanistan in "Obama's War."

The degree of demo drag from "Accidentally on Purpose," CBS's sitcom that's underperforming the rest of the solid lineup.

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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.

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