ABC's 'Housewives' falls to football

CBS dominated Sunday’s primetime ratings race thanks to its NFL playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. ABC, meanwhile, paid the price of going up against such a juggernaut as anchor “Desperate Housewives” fell to a firstrun low.

According to Nielsen estimates adjusted for time-zone differences, the Steelers’ 23-14 victory over the Ravens in football’s AFC Championship game averaged roughly a 14.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 40.6 million viewers overall, making it the top-rated primetime telecast of the season. It was down, as expected, from the record-setting delivery in primetime a year ago for Fox’s coverage of the overtime NFC Championship game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers (20.6/46 in 18-49, 53.9 million viewers overall).

Ratings weren’t available Monday for Fox’s coverage of the NFC Championship game (3-6:10 p.m. ET), in which the Arizona Cardinals knocked off the Philadelphia Eagles, 32-25.

Following the game on CBS, an original episode of “The Mentalist” averaged a 4.6 rating and 16.4 million viewers overall, according to time zone-adjusted preliminary Nielsens. This reps the best demo delivery to date for the season’s hottest rookie show, while it was a bit below average in total viewers.

At ABC, “Extreme Makeover” (2.9/7 in 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall), “Desperate Housewives” (4.6/10 in 18-49, 13.0 million viewers overall) and “Brothers & Sisters” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall) all hit season lows for original episodes, although they were the clear No. 2 choices to football on the night.

Fox was led by repeats of “The Simpsons” (2.3/5 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall) and “Family Guy” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall), while NBC did little business with either its two-hour “Dateline” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall) or its repeat special “Saturday Night Live Presidential Bash” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall).

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