Yankees, Giants Games Score with Sunday Night Viewers

Rash Report: Late Night for Teams From City That Never Sleeps

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Frank Sinatra would have been smiling, because it was a New York, New York kind of night.

The New York Yankees won the ALCS to advance to the World Series.
The New York Yankees won the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Credit: AP
On Fox, the New York Yankees won the American League Championship Series, beating the Los Angeles Angels to advance to the World Series, where they will play against the defending World Series Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies.

On NBC, another New York institution, the Giants (no, not the baseball version of "Ol Blue Eyes" era, but the NFL team), lost to the Phoenix Cardinals on "Sunday Night Football."

Fittingly, it will probably end up close to a tie in the Nielsen ratings race of ad-centric adults 18-49. With definitive live-plus-same-day data delayed until Tuesday, fast affiliate ratings indicate an NFL rating and share of 5.2/13, with Major League Baseball a 4.8/12 (although fast national data supplied by Fox, which goes past prime time's cutoff of 11 p.m. indicates an identical 5.2/13).

Either way, with both games going past 11 p.m.. it really was the city that never sleeps. And either way, it was sports that dominated demographically. From 7-11 p.m., Fox won the night overall, as an NFL overrun and an abbreviated version of "The O.T." from 7-8:06 p.m. led to an overall 7-11 p.m. delivery of 5.9/15. NBC was second, as "Football Night in America" (2.6/7) ran from 7-8:30 p.m., with the Giants-Cardinals game starting right after.

Up against the New York, New York, games, which, like the song, made it there and anywhere, rival networks with scripted series could be forgiven if they felt "these little town blues." But third place ABC (3.3/8) saw Sunday schedule bookends "America's Funniest Home Videos" (2.3/7) and "Brothers and Sisters" (3.3/8) increase 10% and 6%, respectively, against their early season-to-date averages. And 8 p.m.'s "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (2.9/7) and "Desperate Housewives" (4.6/11) were off a negligible two-tenths and one-tenth of a ratings point, respectively.

Instead, it was fourth place CBS (2.2/6) that was hit harder. "60 Minutes" (2.1/6), for instance, was off a third from last week and a quarter from its season-to-date average. Lead-out "The Amazing Race," however, has a hold on its audience, regardless of which game is on, as the reality game hit its 3.2/8 season-to-date average. As did "Race's" lead-out, "Three Rivers." But that won't do, as the 1.8/4 average isn't a sustainable showing to stay on Sunday nights. This low lead-in has hurt "Cold Case" as well, which tied last week's season low 1.7/4.

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

But CBS can seek solace that its turn with an NFL overrun should come up again soon. And sure, it may not be with the New York Jets, the NFL's AFC team it usually carries. But when it comes to sports -- and the NFL in particular -- it probably won't matter, because regardless of how big the market for the teams are, Sunday's big games, in Sinatra's words, are "a number one, top of the list, king of the hill."

Monday: Granted, most choose prime time to escape from, not reflect the Great Recession. But it may be instructive, or give perspective, to watch PBS's "Frontline" rerun of "The Crash of 1929," just to check to make sure it's just the show, not the event, that's being repeated. If you're still not too depressed watching The Depression, there's a new documentary about the president who presided over the beginning of it: "Herbert Hoover: Landslide."
Tuesday: OK, all this Great Depression/Recession talk calls for the Great Pumpkin (or at least Linus's security blanket). So watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on ABC.

With CBS's "CSI," "The Good Wife" and "CSI: NY" running reruns the next three nights, it's the first true test of whether NBC's "Jay Leno Show" will be plan B for many viewers. If ratings don't rise, the chorus of complaints from NBC affiliates will.

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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's Compass Media, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.

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