Telecast comes in second to NBC's NFL game

Sunday’s telecast of the Primetime Emmy Awards posted credible numbers on CBS, rising roughly 10% in key demos vs. last year’s record-low averages despite facing a monster NFL game on NBC.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, the Emmys kudocast averaged a 4.2 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 13.3 million viewers overall from 8 to 11 p.m., up vs. the previous year on ABC (3.8/9 in 18-49, 12.3 million viewers overall). Despite the improvement, this year’s Emmys looks likely to settle for the second lowest demo scores on record and the third smallest overall audience (in addition to last year, it also edged out the 13 million who watched on Fox in 2007).

Even though the show and host Neil Patrick Harris received widespread critical acclaim, the audience declined with each half-hour. After opening with more than 15 million viewers at 8 p.m. (following a big NFL overrun and a shortened version of “60 Minutes”), the kudocast wrapped with a little under 11 million viewers at 10:30 when lightly watched shows “30 Rock” and “Mad Men” walked away with the top prizes.

At NBC, the NFL game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys — the first regular-season contest played in the Cowboys’ new $1.2 billion stadium — delivered the best-ever overnight score for “Sunday Night Football” (16.5 household rating/27 share) and crushed everything in its path. The game, whose outcome wasn’t decided until the closing seconds, is expected to produce roughly a 10 rating in 18-49 and more than 25 million viewers overall when nationals are released Tuesday.

No NFL regular-season primetime game has rated higher in the overnights since a matchup between the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” in December 1998.

Elsewhere, Fox did OK with repeats of its animated comedies, logging the best scores from “Family Guy” (2.6/6 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) and a special 8:30 p.m. episode of “The Simpsons” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall).

ABC was not a factor at all, putting up tiny numbers for its network premiere of “King Kong” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall).

Next Sunday’s action will include the return of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and the debut of Fox’s “Family Guy” spinoff “The Cleveland Show.”

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 7.1/19; CBS, 4.5/12; Fox, 2.1/6; ABC, 1.1/3; Univision, 0.7/2; CW, 0.4/1.

In total viewers: NBC, 18.5 million; CBS, 14.5 million; Fox, 4.7 million; ABC, 3.9 million; Univision, 2.0 million; CW, 1.0 million.

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