A Great Night for TV

Rash Report: 'Sunday Night Football' Blitzed the Emmy Awards

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Accepting his second award of the night, and second straight Best Drama Emmy, "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner was a happy man, confidently stating that today's fractured and fragmented media landscape "means more choice and entertainment. And it's better for viewers in the end. And I'm glad to be part of it."

'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner accepts the Emmy for Best Drama.
'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner accepts the Emmy for Best Drama. Credit: AP
So, too, it seemed, were the viewers, who rewarded an award show that was well produced and paced, and had light, if not outright funny moments, even during the drama category. The Emmy Awards had 11% more viewers than last year in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, as preliminary prime-time ratings indicate a 4.2/11 rating and share.

Of course, Weiner's words can ring too true, at least for CBS, as viewers also took note of "the more choice and entertainment" on NBC. "Sunday Night Football" blitzed the Emmys with a 8.7/22 from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., a number that will justifiably jump when the post prime-time portion is included, given the thriller that was being played out in Dallas, which the New York Giants won 33-31. Combined with a 4.4/13 for "Football Night in America" from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., NBC scored a first place 7.1/19.

Not that CBS didn't benefit from prime-time pigskin itself, as an NFL overrun in the first half hour rated a 7.4/23, followed by a sped-up "60 Minutes" (3.9/12), resulting in CBS finishing second with a 4.5/12.

This was well above Fox, which seemed to concede its Sunday "animation domination" viewers -- disproportionally younger and more male -- to the big game, as it ran reruns for a 2.1/6 average. (ABC's three hour theatrical running of "King Kong" had a more chimp-like 1.1/3, and the CW's Sunday repeats registered a 0.4/1.)

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

Of course, none of this reflects cable ratings, as final live-plus-same-day data isn't released by Nielsen until Tuesday. Once available, it not only will have the final football numbers -- both for "Sunday Night Football" and CBS's overrun -- but ratings for what many everyday viewers, Emmy voters, TV critics (and this ad man) believe is the best show on TV: "Mad Men," which probably put many DVRs into overdrive, as it ran nearly simultaneously with winning two Emmy Awards.

Of his show, Weiner finished the night thanking AMC and Lionsgate for allowing him to be "the only person in this room on some level who has complete creative freedom." Let's hope that as the Emmy Awards -- which ended one TV season and began a new one -- that the industry chiefs were listening, and hadn't snuck off into the Emmy Green Room or their own living rooms to check out the Giants game.

Monday: What not to watch? With the Emmy Awards as the unofficial starting gun for the fall season, CBS gets out of the blocks with its comedy block and a new episode of "CSI: Miami." But there will be keen competition in the form of three two-hour season premieres, including "House" on Fox, "Dancing with the Stars" on ABC and "Heroes" on NBC (let alone fresh episodes of those freshman favorites, "One Tree Hill" and "Gossip Girl" on the CW). But just like last night, the NFL will be looking for a sack, as "Monday Night Football" runs on ESPN.
Tuesday: Three new series have their prime-time premieres, including ABC's "The Forgotten" and CBS's "NCIS: Los Angeles." But the best is CBS's "The Good Wife," with Julianna Marguiles as an all-too-familiar public figure, the dignified better half, humiliated by her husband's political, and personal, scandal.

Well protected in-between cultural and commercial hits "How I Met Your Mother" and "Two and a Half Men," CBS's new addition to its Monday night lineup, "Accidentally on Purpose," should get off to a strong start. But as the weakest comedy in the lineup, watch for signs of demographic drift as the fall goes on.

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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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