Football give kick to ratings, Alphabet ties with Peacock

Both professional and college gridiron action scored for ABC last week, but the net had to settle for a first-place tie with NBC for the lead among young adults, as the Peacock stretched its winning streak to 15 weeks.

Sports also was a big factor in the week’s cable races, with ESPN (with its first pro football game on Sunday) and TNT (a strong auto race on Saturday) leading the field. And on the entertainment side, Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” set more records for the net.

According to Nielsen, ABC and NBC tied for the Sept. 1-7 lead in adults 18-49 (3.0/9), the first time the Alphabet has been on top since Oscar week in March. NBC also led in adults 25-54 (3.5/9) and total viewers (8.28 million), while Fox remained supreme among 12-34 (2.8/10).

ABC’s special National Football League opener on Thursday between the Washington Redskins and New York Jets dominated the week’s rankings in adults 18-49 (7.7/23), total viewers (19.15 million) and all key male categories.

ESPN’s premiere of Sunday night football (Raiders-Titans) ranked No. 2 for the frame in 18-49 (5.2/15), while ABC’s Florida-Miami thriller on Saturday became the highest-rated collegiate game of the young season (2.9/10 in A18-49, 7.59 million viewers) and helped the net win that night.

ABC didn’t do too much else, although laffers “8 Simple Rules” and “George Lopez” posted their best numbers since May and newsmag “20/20″ again won Friday at 10 (2.8/9 in 18-49) and appears to have a new lease on life now that NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” has vacated the hour.

‘Fear’ a factor

NBC, despite a rare third-place finish on Thursday, was solid but not spectacular throughout the week and claimed five of the top 10 shows in 18-49. A repeat of “Fear Factor” posted surprisingly strong numbers on Monday (4.6/13) to rank third for the week, delivering the highest rating in the 8 o’clock hour for any net on any night since the preem of Fox’s “American Juniors” on June 3 (4.8/15).

Net also did well with “Law & Order,” both on Wednesday and with a special seg on Sunday, and “Dateline” (2.9/10 in 18-49, 9.67m) controlled its two-hour slot on Friday.

Fox, third in 18-49, received more good news from Tuesday drama “The OC” (4.0/11 in 18-49, 9.13m), which hit new highs and was the night’s top-rated program in key demos. Net’s also doing pretty well with music skein “Performing As…” on Tuesday (2.8/9 in 18-49) and Wednesday’s edition of “Paradise Hotel,” which hit a summer high (4.1/12).

‘Big Brother’ still hot

At CBS, “Big Brother 4″ again won all three of its timeslots in 18-49, Thursday’s “CSI” was the week’s top-rated scripted series (4.5/12 in 18-49) and the “Latin Grammys” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.96m) were up year-to-year.

On the down side, Saturday’s all-Belgian women’s final of the U.S. Open tennis tourney was a bust (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.70m), way down from last year’s All-American matchup.

The WB moved ahead of UPN in adults 18-34 (1.4/4 vs. 1.2/4), as the one-hour season premiere of “Grounded for Life” placed second for its slot in persons 12-34 (2.0/8) — its best delivery yet on the Frog since moving over from Fox last season.

UPN was encouraged by the perf of relocated laffer “One on One,” which drew its largest Tuesday aud in eight tries this summer.

On the cable side, ESPN led in adults 18-49 (1.3/4), edging out TNT’s 1.2/4, while the Turner web edged out the sports net in overall aud (3.32m vs. 3.06m) and the two tied in adults 25-54 (1.4/3). ESPN also won in adults 18-34, Lifetime in women 18-49.

Bravo tied for 14th for the frame in adults 18-49, more than tripling its delivery vs. the same week a year ago. Leading the way was best-yet scores for “Queer Eye” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 3.35m) and the largest aud of the summer for “Boy Meets Boy” (1.62m for its finale).

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