'Sunday Night Football' Scores With Giants Game

Rash Report: NBC's Best Ratings Since September

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Whether in the game or on the bench, football loomed large in last night's Nielsen ratings race. NBC, with its "Sunday Night Football Game" and "Football Night in America," scored the highest rating and share in the adult 18-49 demographic, delivering an overall 4.9/12. The game posted a 5.7/14 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (the cutoff point for the Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings). Final live-plus-same-day data will be released tomorrow, and the fast affiliates usually jump 11%. If a similar pattern ensues, it would be the highest-rated Sunday-night game since Sept. 28.
Football loomed large, with NBC scoring the highest rating and share in the adult 18-49 demographic.
Football loomed large, with NBC scoring the highest rating and share in the adult 18-49 demographic. Credit: AP

"Football Night in America" held the season-to-date line with a 2.6/7.

Of course it helps to have the Super Bowl champs playing. And it really helps to have the Super Bowl champs play a major divisional rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, which not only spikes viewership in the biggest media market but makes the New York Giants more of a marquee team than even the Tennessee Titans, the only NFL team left unbeaten.

'Housewives' get a grip
As for "Desperate Housewives," no desperation in the ratings, which tracked with season averages to a 5.9/13. And "Desperate" even beat the game head-to-head. As usual, however, ABC lost the lead in the fourth quarter of Sunday prime time, because even though "Brothers and Sisters" (3.7/9) hit its season average, it still lost over a third of the lead-in from "Desperate," be they housewives, house husbands or house singles.

Earlier, ABC tried to compete against football not with the female-focused dramas but with sports, as a Nascar post-race show sputtered to a 2.2/6. "America's Funniest Home Videos" (1.9/5) followed and was down 14% from its season average, and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (3.5/8) slipped 8%.

Overall, ABC tied CBS for second with a 3.8/9.

CBS's success was also football-related, as the late game went late and blitzed its way into prime time with a 7.3/20 from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (all times approximate). This gave a nice lead to lead-out "60 Minutes" (4.2/11), which was up 50% from its season average. "The Amazing Race" (3.3/8) benefited to a smaller degree, rising 6%, while "Cold Case" (3.0/7) warmed up 11%. Only half an hour of "The Unit" was reflected in its 2.5/6 delivery.

But just as football is a game of turnovers, Fox fumbled away many male viewers not just because there was football on NBC and CBS but because it aired reruns from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., with "King of the Hill" delivering a 1.7/5 and "The Simpsons" notching a 2.5/7.

Animated lineup overpowered
Original episodes of animated sitcoms followed, with "The Simpsons" (3.9/10) losing a third of the viewers it scared up for last week's "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween special, and lead-out "King of the Hill" (3.3/8) down 21%. "Family Guy" (4.3/10) and "American Dad" (3.3/7) also felt the effects of playing defense on a non-NFL night, as "Family Guy" fell 16% from last week and 7% from season averages, and "Dad" dropped 8% and 3% from the same time frames.

Overall, Fox finished fourth with a 3.2/8.

As for the CW (or more appropriately, MRC, as the network outsourced its lineup to Media Rights Capital), the dimensions of its ratings seemed to approximate foosball more than football, as repeats of "In Harm's Way" (.2/1), "Valentine" (.2/0) and "Easy Money" (.2/0) once again averaged a .2 rating and zero share.

Monday: Remember when your high school civics teacher used to say we learn history so as not to repeat it? Hopefully Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue will watch "The Crash of 1929" on PBS's "American Experience."
Tuesday: Only two new shows could reasonably be called a hit this season. Unfortunately, they run against each other: Fox's "Fringe" and CBS's "The Mentalist" should drive DVR usage higher.

How many weeks will CBS keep "Worst Week" in the cushy timeslot behind "Two and a Half Men" if it continues to lose such a significant portion of the latter show's viewers?

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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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