Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

The AFC championship game between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots crushed the competition Sunday night, racking up the largest audience for any telecast since the night of the Super Bowl on ABC nearly one year ago.

According to time zone-adjusted preliminary nationals from Nielsen, the Colts’ 38-34 victory averaged a 17.6 rating in adults 18-49 and 46.7 million viewers overall from roughly 6:40-10:20 p.m. ET — peaking with about 57 million viewers in the closing minutes when Peyton Manning rallied his team with a go-ahead touchdown.

This puts the game ahead of last week’s two huge performances for Fox’s “American Idol,” both of which topped a 15 demo rating and 35 million viewers overall.

The Colts will take on the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl on CBS on Feb. 4.

Elsewhere on the night, ABC ran second with firstrun segs of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 8.4 million viewers overall), “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (4.8/10 in 18-49, 12.6 million viewers overall), “Desperate Housewives” (6.6/13 in 18-49, 17.1 million viewers overall) and “Brothers & Sisters” (4.6/11 in 18-49, 11.9 million viewers overall).

Third-place NBC was led by “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” (2.8/6 in 18-49, 8.1 million viewers overall) and “The Apprentice: Los Angeles” (2.8/6 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall), Fox by a repeat of “The Simpsons” (2.7/6 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS. 14.9/32; ABC, 4.7/10; NBC. 2.6/6; Fox, 2.3/5; Univision, 1.3/3; CW, 0.9/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 39.8 million; ABC, 12.5 million; NBC, 7.9 million; Fox, 5.3 million; Univision, 3.0 million; CW, 2.7 million.

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