Holiday (and Weekly) Tradition: NFL Rules Ratings Race

Rash Report: NBC's 'Sunday Night Football' Wins; Fox Second With NFL Overrun, 'The OT'

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- White House State Dinner party-crashers and Tiger Woods' crash dominated the discourse over the Thanksgiving weekend equivalent of the water cooler -- a fridge full of turkey leftovers. That is until, as usual, the NFL crashed through the pop culture clutter to once again determine the ratings race Sunday night.

The NFL once again dominated the ratings race Sunday night.
The NFL once again dominated the ratings race Sunday night. Credit: AP
NBC won with an overall 5.4/13 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, scoring a 6.6/16 for the 8:30-11 p.m. portion of the Sunday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens (once final live-plus-same-day data reflect the Ravens' overtime victory, which came post-11 p.m., ratings will rise from the preliminary fast affiliate data). From 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. "Football Night in America" notched a 3.4/9.

Fox had the late game, delivering a 6.2/17 NFL overrun from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This lead into "The O.T." (3.6/10). Many of the relatively younger males must have had their own version of Fox overtime, hanging around to spike the "animation domination" ratings from last week: "The Simpsons" surged 27% to a 4.2/10; "The Cleveland Show" was up a more modest 6% to a 3.5/8; "Family Guy," not having to face the AMA Awards like last week, jumped 13% to a 4.4/10 and "American Dad" (3.3/8) elevated 18% from a week ago. Overall, Fox finished second with a 4.2/10.

Fox's late game meant CBS's "60 Minutes" clock was right on time, but it missed a big game lead-in, as the 2.6/7 was off 21% from last week. "Amazing Race," however, has amazing resiliency, as it bounced back to actually over-deliver its usual level by a tenth of a ratings point (3.4/8). But then, as usual, many of those viewers vamoosed. But instead of ratings dogs "Three Rivers" and "Cold Case," it was "A Dog Named Christmas" that fetched a 2.1/5. CBS finished fourth for the night with a 2.6/6 average.

ABC (third, 3.1/8), conversely, has a Sunday scheduling strategy that depends on not having football. But after "America's Funniest Home Videos" hit its 2.1/6 season-to-date original episode average, its female-focused reality show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (3.0/7) tied a season low, as did drama "Brothers and Sisters" (3.0/8). And after an extended weekend of extended families and wondering what's up with one certain reality wannabe (Michaele Salahi) and one possible desperate housewife (Tiger Woods' wife Elin Nordegren), ABC's version may not have been as appealing, as "Desperate Housewives" hit a season low 4.3/10.

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

Monday: 'Tis the season for holiday specials, including the second-best (sorry, Seuss fans, nothing can top "A Charlie Brown Christmas"), as ABC runs "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
Tuesday: OK, just for a night, crowd out crowd-pleasing, escapist entertainment, to watch Barack Obama detail his Afghanistan plan, which may be the single most important issue the president presides over.

The other post-Thanksgiving leftovers -- post-sweep reruns -- return, meaning Monday's usual winner, CBS, should yield to new episodes of "House" and "Lie to Me" on Fox.

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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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