Return of Football Means Ratings Win for NBC

Rash Report: Trounces Much Smaller U.S. Open Ratings

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- It's been a colorful month, as the gold-, silver- and bronze-tinted Olympics on NBC made an immediate media morph into the red, white and blue bunting and balloons of the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
NBC's Sunday win was due to the Bears' big victory over the Colts in Indianapolis.
NBC's Sunday win was due to the Bears' big victory over the Colts in Indianapolis. Credit: AP

So it's fitting as prime time pivots to the new fall season that the multicolored peacock kick it off with, well, a kickoff of the new NFL season and a win. The network's overall 5.5/14 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic may actually increase, once Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings are released Tuesday (all ratings are based on Nielsen fast-affiliate numbers).

NBC's Sunday win was due to the Bears' big victory over the Colts in Indianapolis, which scored a 6.4/16 from 8 to 11 p.m. ET. This was about par with last year, with final numbers varying. The game was preceded by NBC's "Football Night in America" (3.5/10). This ran against Fox's "The OT" (3.2/10), which came after an NFL overrun (5.2/17) of the late Sunday afternoon regional games.

Filling a need?
Fox followed football with the program premiere of the game show "Hole in the Wall" (3.5/9), which filled a hole in the schedule, at least compared to repeats of "The Simpsons" (2.4/6) and "Family Guy" (2.4/6 and 2.6/6). For the night, Fox finished second with a 3.2/9.

The fall kickoffs beat another late summer/early fall sporting tradition, the U.S. Open on CBS, which long ago brought colorful personalities and shed tennis whites to have more cultural resonance and relevance. But relative to football, it still struggled, delivering a 1.3/3 for Serena Williams' win.

Despite the latest athletic achievement by a Williams sister, tennis couldn't beat "Big Brother," which delivered a 2.7/7, or even the grandfatherly types on "60 Minutes," which posted a 1.7/5 as CBS finished third with a 1.7/4 average.

Beautiful winners and losers
Prime time's colorful cultural kaleidoscope continued on the CW, with the bold fashions of "America's Next Top Model" (0.8/2), which followed the bold passions of teen angst on "One Tree Hill" (0.6/2) as the network averaged a 0.7/2.

But on fourth-place ABC (1.4/4), it wasn't colors, but camouflage, as "America United: In Support of Our Troops" delivered a 1.3/3, following a 1.4/5 and 1.6/4 for lead-in programs "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

As for Monday night, Sunday's colorful cultural -- and sporting -- events are a good lead-in for the first "Monday Night Football" game of the year, appropriately from "the black-and-blue division," as NFC North rivals Green Bay and Minnesota square off.

Monday: Didn't get enough Americana at the recent political conventions? ABC runs the "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock," and cable cousin ESPN assumes, yes, you are ready for some football, with a "Monday Night Football" double-header.
Tuesday: After country's night to rock, it's a more cosmopolitan setting as CBS runs "Fashion Rocks."

Strong ratings for ESPN's "Monday Night Football," given the heated rivalry between the Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings. But had a former Packer quarterback come back as a Viking -- as was his preference -- it may have set records.

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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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