Football lifts NBC in ratings race

Vikings vs. Bears game wins Sunday night

A key pro football contest between the rival Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears helped NBC capture the final Sunday of November in key demo categories. CBS also got a nice boost from the end of a late-afternoon NFL game, while ABC had the night’s top entertainment series in “Desperate Housewives.”

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, the Vikings’ 34-14 victory over the Bears averaged a 5.3 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and 14.2 million viewers overall on the NBC affiliates from 8:30 to 11 p.m., with the nationals expected to rise by 10% or more. The game, which vaulted the Vikings to first place in the NFC North division, ran first or second in all key categories during each half-hour, especially dominating in primetime’s final hour.

At CBS, a football overrun highlighted by the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots and also featuring the lengthy conclusion to the Denver Broncos-New York Jets matchup, averaged a 7.4 rating/19 share in adults 18-49 and 24.3 million viewers overall during the night’s opening half-hour, with those numbers likely to rise by 15% or more in the nationals. Numbers for the rest of the CBS lineup is murky due to late start times in much of the country, but “60 Minutes” averaged a 4.8/12 in 18-49 and 18.8 million viewers overall from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., followed by “Amazing Race” (roughly 3.5/7 in 18-49, 12.7 million viewers overall from 8:30 to 9:30), “Cold Case” (3.0/7 in 18-49, 11.4 million viewers overall) and “The Unit” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall).

ABC’s regular lineup was roughly in line with their prior season averages, starting with “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (3.6/8 in 18-49, 11.2 million viewers overall). “Desperate Housewives” then delivered the night’s top scores for an entertainment series (5.6/12 in 18-49, 15.6 million viewers overall), followed by “Brothers & Sisters” (3.5/8 in 18-49, 10.2 million viewers overall).

At Fox, “The Simpsons” (3.5/8 in 18-49, 8.0 million viewers overall) and “King of the Hill” (2.8/6 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall) and “American Dad” (2.5/5 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) were all a bit below average, while “Family Guy” aired a repeat seg at 9 o’clock (3.2/7 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall).

CW’s revamped Sunday sked fared a bit better than in recent weeks, notching identical scores for both former CBS series “Jericho” at 7 o’clock and movie “Crocodile Hunter” from 8 to 10 p.m. (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.3 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 4.3/10; CBS, 4.1/10; ABC, 3.7/9; Fox, 2.4/6; Univision, 1.1/3; CW, 0.4/1.

In total viewers: CBS, 15.0 million; NBC, 11.8 million; ABC, 11.5 million; Fox, 5.6 million; Univision, 3.1 million; CW, 1.3 million.

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