Cleveland Brown (Not Cleveland Browns) Cuts Into NFL Lead

Rash Report: 'Sunday Night Football' Wins, but Fox's Animated Comedies Start Strong

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- Guys are used to watching the Cleveland Browns on Sundays. It seems they like Cleveland Brown, too. Or at least his character, as Fox's program premiere of "The Cleveland Show" delivered a 4.9/12 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic in the Nielsen Fast Affiliate ratings (final live + same day data will be released Tuesday), which makes it the highest-rated scripted series debut for the fall season.

'The Cleveland Show'
'The Cleveland Show' Credit: Fox
The same guys liked "Family Guy" and "American Dad" (which, like "Cleveland," are from creator Seth MacFarlane) as well as the rest of the "animation domination" lineup, as Fox finished second with an overall 3.7/10.

"Cleveland" beat last year's timeslot occupant, "King of the Hill," by 44%, which seemed to help "Family Guy" (5.2/12), which spiked 16%. "American Dad" (3.6/9) was up 13%. But "The Simpsons" slipped 7% to a 4.2/12, most likely because last year's premiere had the benefit of a big NFL overrun.

Overall, NBC scored first place with the kind of programming Fox's guys usually gravitate towards: NFL football. But the 4.9/13 preliminary delivery for the Indianapolis Colts vs. the Arizona Cardinals match-up is down 43% from last week's Giants-Cowboys shootout, as the preliminary delivery indicates a 5.6/14 (although this could change significantly when live + same day data is released). Pre-game "Football Night in America" averaged a 3.8/11.

As usual, the actual game going on did better than NBC's recap show, as an NFL overrun on CBS was higher rated. Just how high? We will have to wait for final data, as the game ran until 7:16 p.m. The 7-7:30 NFL/"60 Minutes" half-hour averaged a 5.2/16. From 7:30-8:30 p.m., "60"/"The Amazing Race" clocked a 3.3/9, from 8:30-10:30 p.m. The two-hour premiere of "Amazing Race" and first portion of "Cold Case" delivered a 3.2/8 and the 10:30-11 p.m. portion of "Cold Case" averaged a 1.9/5. Overall, CBS was third, with a 3.3/9.

So with guys watching Cleveland Brown and the Cleveland Browns' league, either on an NFL overrun or NBC's "Sunday Night Football" game, there were plenty of viewers left for ABC's gridiron-free grid, right? Well, not exactly, as all three of the network's season premieres plunged below last year. Most notably, primetime soap operas "Desperate Housewives" (4.5/11) and "Brothers and Sisters" (3.0/8) were off 37% and 35%, respectively. "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" ran back-to-back episodes, delivering a 2.1/6 in the "America's Funniest Home Videos" timeslot and a 3.1/8 at 8p.m., which is down 16% from last year's first fall episodes.

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

How "The Cleveland Show" fares the rest of the fall will often depend on the NFL itself, both from the weeks Fox benefits from an NFL overrun and how crucial the match-up on NBC is. But Fox's Cleveland Brown won't have to worry about ever going head-to-head with the Cleveland Browns, as the team's poor prospects means only the animated version is ready for primetime.

Monday: "All talk, no action," goes a common cultural complaint. Tonight's program premiere of NBC's "Trauma," however, is the opposite, as the big-screen-worthy special effects supersede the script. Given how much it probably cost to shoot the pilot, "Trauma" will have to quickly rebalance. Tuesday: Conversely, "The Good Wife's" inter-family dialogue is far more compelling than the courtroom theatrics that make up the show's more episodic elements.

CBS's critically-panned "Accidentally on Purpose" was still a relative commercial success for its primetime premiere last Monday. Week two will show if samplers stay.

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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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