Game gives NBC a ratings victory

The inaugural “Sunday Night Football” contest of the season — a high-scoring affair between the rival Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants — powered NBC to an easy primetime ratings victory on Sunday.

According to metered-market overnights provided by Nielsen, the Cowboys’ 45-35 victory on Sunday averaged a 13.6 household rating/22 share from about 8:15 to 11:30 p.m., with the Peacock more than doubling the other major broadcast nets. The opening-night result came in down about 10% from last year’s game between the Giants and Indianapolis Colts (15.1/24) — a heavily hyped contest featuring quarterback brothers Peyton and Eli Manning that was one of the highest-rated primetime regular-season NFL game of the past 10 years. Game is expected to produce nearly an 8 rating in adults 18-49 when Nielsen issues nationals Tuesday morning.

Elsewhere Sunday, “Big Brother 8″ on CBS averaged roughly a 3.1 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 and 8.8 million viewers overall; show started about 30 minutes late in much of the country due to a U.S. Open tennis overrun. When nationals are released, this could stand as the highest-rated Sunday episode of the season.

Fox, which dominated the first half-hour of primetime with an NFL overrun (roughly projected at 6.7/19 in 18-49, 15.1 million viewers overall) was led later in the evening by repeats of “Family Guy” (3.1/7 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall) and “The Simpsons” (3.0/7 in 18-49, 6.1 million viewers overall).

And ABC was above average from 9 to 11 as theatrical “Meet the Fockers” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 7.9 million viewers overall) performed considerably better than recent repeats of the net’s regularly scheduled serialized dramas.

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