‘Grey’s’ in the pink

'Anatomy' muscular; football ratings fall

On the day the NFL determined the combatants for its big game, ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” proved that it was Super-worthy too.

The hot Alphabet medical drama, which gets this year’s plum post-Super Bowl berth, achieved some season and series highs Sunday as ABC held up well opposite conference championship football action on Fox. Sunday’s playoff pigskin on both Fox and CBS was down vs. last year’s hot numbers.

According to preliminary Nielsen nationals, “Grey’s Anatomy” averaged a huge 9.5 rating/22 share in adults 18-49 and 21.3 million viewers overall — its second best scores to date behind only last May’s first-season finale. And it established a series high in adults 18-34 (9.1/23).

ABC is hoping to broaden the “Grey’s” aud even more by airing it after the Super Bowl, when it will play in its regular slot in much of the country.

“Desperate Housewives” also looked strong for ABC (prelim 10.4/22 in 18-49, 25.2 million), logging its best scores of the new year and roughly matching the football game on Fox for its hour.

As for football, reliable national estimates weren’t available with the game airing live in different time zones, but the Seattle Seahawks’ 34-14 drubbing of the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game should approach a 13 rating in adults 18-49 and draw more than 30 million viewers overall.

Although down from last year, Sunday’s game will give Fox the week’s three highest-rated telecasts in adults 18-49 (along with the two opening installments of “American Idol”). If Sunday’s NFL game comes in above the Rose Bowl’s 12.8 rating, Fox will have also tallied the season’s three top-rated shows in the demo.

In Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, the Seattle-Carolina game (a blowout featuring two teams with little national following) generated a 22.0 household rating/32 share — down 19% from last year’s 27.0/38 for the AFC title game on CBS in the same 6:30-10 p.m. ET window.

Earlier in the day (3-6:30 p.m. ET), the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 34-17 victory over the Denver Broncos averaged a 24.6 household rating/44 share in the overnights on CBS, a 14% decline from last year’s Atlanta-Philadelphia NFC game on Fox in the same window (28.6/48).

Among the local markets, Pittsburgh earned a 79 share, followed by Seattle (78), Denver (71) and Charlotte (58).

In all three weekends of postseason action, the AFC games rated higher than the NFC. The American Football Conference has defeated the National Football Conference in six of the last eight Super Bowls.

This year’s matchup is a good geographic balance, with Pittsburgh (the 22nd biggest U.S. market) having a big national following and Seattle (No. 12 market) figuring to boost viewership in the West.

ABC will air the game on Feb. 5.

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