As 2009 ends, NFL games give networks a bump

CBS and NBC fared best in the last full week of 2009, with each getting a boost from NFL action on Sunday.

The Eye also continued to generate pretty good numbers with scripted repeats including its Monday comedies and “NCIS” tandem, while NBC hung in there with some specials and the finale of short-run series “The Sing Off.”

Sans football, ABC and Fox struggled in this typically quiet frame and put up the lowest scores for any major network this season.

Overall, according to same-night viewing estimates from Nielsen for the week of Dec. 21-27, NBC and CBS each earned a 2.0 rating/6 share in adults 18-49, followed by ABC and Fox (1.3/4) and Univision (1.1/4). (Cable averages were not available due to holiday-related delays.)

CBS won out over NBC in adults 25-54 (2.7/8 to 2.4/7) and total viewers (9.1 million to 6.4 million), while the Peacock held the edge in the younger 12-34 demo (1.4/5 to 1.2/4 for CBS).

The penultimate “Sunday Night Football” game of the season on NBC, a matchup of rivals Dallas and Washington, easily stood as the frame’s No. 1 program (6.9/19 in adults 18-49, 19.04 million viewers overall). And ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” contest between the New York Giants and Washington ranked second (4.2/13 in 18-49, 11.34m).

Also for NBC last week, “The Sing Off” ended its two-week run on a high note Monday (2.3/6 in 18-49, 7.28m), leading into the top-rated seg of “The Jay Leno Show” on the night (1.6/4, 5.81m) in 10 weeks.

The Peacock also did OK on Christmas Eve with “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1.6/6, 5.31m) and Christmas night with a repeat of “Saturday Night Live: A Very Gilly Christmas” (1.2/4, 3.94m).

CBS topped its broadcast rivals on the first three nights of the week despite airing all repeats. It was paced by “The Big Bang Theory” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 10.00m) and “Two and a Half Men” (3.2/9, 10.78m) on Monday, “NCIS” (2.9/9, 15.39m) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (3.5/7, 12.45m) on Tuesday, and “CSI: NY” (2.1/7, 10.27m) and “Criminal Minds” (2.0/6, 10.29m) on Wednesday.

“60 Minutes” also contributed with a good number Sunday (2.9/8 in 18-49, 15.74m), benefiting from a roughly 50-minute NFL overrun that averaged a 9.1 rating in 18-49.

Fox aired virtually all repeats, seeing its best numbers with Sunday comedies “Family Guy” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 5.07m), “The Cleveland Show” (2.0/5, 4.20m), “American Dad” (2.0/5, 4.15m) and “The Simpsons” (1.8/5, 4.07m).

Also, “House” kept the Monday lights on (1.6/5, 4.89m) and “Glee” fared a bit better than expected with a repeat in its regular Wednesday slot (1.5/5 in 18-49, 3.90m). And the net won Saturday with staples “Cops” (1.7/6 in 18-49, 5.05m) and “America’s Most Wanted” (1.7/6, 4.82m).

ABC topped a 2 demo rating during the week only with Wednesday’s repeat of holiday perennial “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2.1/8, 6.77m). Its other respectable perfs in a quiet week were Monday spec “I Want a Dog for Christmas” (1.8/5, 5.89m) and Saturday movie “Shrek 2″ (1.5/5, 4.55m).

Definitely not working are Tuesday’s firstrun comedy combo of “Scrubs” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 3.43m) and “Better Off Ted” (1.0/3, 2.77m), which are set to quickly exit the net’s sked early in the new year.

There wasn’t much change in the evening news race, as NBC’s “Nightly News” (2.3/8 in adults 25-54, 9.37 million viewers overall) remained well ahead of ABC’s “World News” (1.8/7 in 25-54, 8.56m), which featured the premiere of Diane Sawyer as anchor, and CBS’ “Evening News” remaining a distant third (1.5/5, 6.16m). It was hard to make much of the numbers, though, as it was a holiday week and ratings for Thursday and Friday were not included.

Leading the week in cable was the Christmas night NFL special on NFL Network between the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans, which averaged 6.9 million viewers. The net’s eight-game primetime package averaged 5.5 million viewers — up a big 49% from last year (3.7 million).

On the entertainment side, TBS garnered impressive numbers for its marathon showings of “A Christmas Story.” The Christmas Eve 8 p.m. telecast averaged a 1.6 rating in 18-49, beating out every broadcast network.

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