NFL, 'Survivor' Thrive on Sunday Night

Rash Report: Football, Reality to Combine on CBS's Super Bowl Night, too

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- The most coveted promotional platform on TV -- the post Super Bowl slot -- for the past several seasons has been used to boost emerging hits such as ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and NBC's "The Office" into network-defining dramas and sitcoms -- but CBS announced it will use the upcoming big game for the program premiere of "Undercover Boss," a reality-TV show.

'Survivor: Samoa'
'Survivor: Samoa' Credit: CBS
After reading Sunday's ratings race results, who can blame the network?

After all, the night was dominated demographically in the ad-centric adult 18-49 target by the two top genres in network TV: football and reality.

NBC won, like it usually does with fall football. NFL recap show "Football Night in America" scored a 2.8/8 rating and share, according to the Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings. This was followed by a 5.6/14 for the "Sunday Night Football" game, in which the Carolina Panthers upset the Minnesota Vikings. Overall from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. the network averaged a 4.5/12, although this will change once the post-prime portion of the game is accounted for with final live-plus-same-day data, which will be released Tuesday.

Fox (4.5/12) was second, even though its "Animation Domination" lineup was all repeats ("The Simpsons," 2.8/7; "Cleveland Show," 3.1/8; "Family Guy," 2.5/6; "American Dad," 2.3/6). Instead, it relied on the highest-rated program of the night -- an NFL overrun and the post-game show "The O.T.," which combined for a 7.0/20 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Conversely, ABC (1.7/5) was run over by the overrun and games -- both actual and the facsimile of reality TV -- as it finished fourth with a 1.7/5. First up was a repeat of "America's Funniest Home Videos," which was followed by the theatrical release "The Santa Clause 3" (1.9/5) and a "Desperate Housewives" rerun (1.2/3).

ABC fell below CBS, which usually finishes last on a night the network used to own. With some key markets having an NFL overrun final live-plus-same-day data will provide more accurate ratings. But preliminary data suggests a 2.4/7 for "60 Minutes," followed by the season finale of "Survivor: Samoa," which, in matching last fall's finale with a 4.4/11, showed remarkable resiliency for a decade-old franchise. And between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. "Survivor Reunion" (3.9/10) was actually up a tenth of a ratings point.

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See how all the shows did in the ratings.

But overall, CBS still finished third with a 3.8/10, as the NFL -- a franchise nearing 90 -- is just that much more powerful. All of which explains how CBS, in looking at the Sunday results, must have thought of football and reality: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Monday: Well, it's certainly no classic like 1965's "A Charlie Brown Christmas." But 2003's "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!" will have to do until all the Christmas concerts start on PBS later this week.
Tuesday: A bit edgier holiday animation can be seen on the Disney Channel, which runs Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

Like a musical score itself, the first two stanzas of "The Sing-Off" were upbeat, while episode three's ratings were downbeat. Will tonight's series finale on NBC end with a crescendo, especially as it's running against reruns on CBS and Fox?

Tuesday: "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which plays again on ABC, is still the only evergreen Christmas special that actually mentions Christ. Linus' theological lesson gets a bit more of a workout on PBS right after, when "Frontline" examines "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians."
Wednesday: Great voices from young people at 9 p.m. on Wednesday usually means "Glee." But it's on hiatus, so switch to PBS for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert.

Ratings for the penultimate performances on "So You Think You Can Dance," the Fox reality hit that made the jump from a summer series to a fall one, which is just one of the reasons Fox won the November sweeps.

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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

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