ABC kickoff boffo

'Monday Night Football' scores demo goal

HOLLYWOOD — Younger viewers, especially, were ready for some football Monday, as the 33rd season of ABC’s “Monday Night Football” got off to a strong start.

Same can’t be said for the net’s “Drew Carey Show,” which already looks shaky in its new Monday slot.

According to Nielsen, the Pittsburgh-New England matchup (19.08 million viewers, 8.3/24 in adults 18-49) was down slightly vs. last year’s New York Giants-Denver opener, but it did log the franchise’s best season-opening ratings among adults 18-34 (8.4/27) in three years and its best among the key football sales demo of men 18-34 (12.0/37) since 1996.

The first regular season contest for the announcing team of Al Michaels and John Madden was up 25% year-to-year in men 18-34. ABC is hoping the addition of Madden will boost Nielsens for the long-running franchise, which remains a top-10 power despite gradual ratings erosion over the years.

“MNF” is poised to deliver some of its best numbers of the season the next two weeks with its Philadelphia-Washington and St. Louis-Tampa Bay matchups.

National ratings for Sunday show that Fox’s late-afternoon game (St. Louis-Denver in most of the country) averaged 21.4 million viewers — the largest opening-week aud for any Sunday game in the eight years that Fox has been televising the NFL. And ESPN averaged 12.1 million viewers for its Sunday night game (Dallas-Houston), the cabler’s third-largest aud ever.

Elsewhere Monday, ABC’s veteran laffer “The Drew Carey Show” got off to a sluggish start in its new 8 p.m. timeslot (10 p.m. in the West, after football). “Drew” did top its all-repeat half-hour competish in adults 18-49 (3.1/11) but that’s the skein’s lowest score ever for an original episode.

“Drew,” which was airing on Monday for the first time and preempted in roughly 4% of the country, fell behind a repeat of CBS comedy “King of Queens” in total viewers (7.60m vs. 8.78m).

At 8:30, season premiere of “Whose Line Is It Anyway” built on its “Drew” 18-49 lead-in (3.4/11), also winning its slot.

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