Also, NBC scores with 'Talent' finale but struggles with 'Apprentice' bow

Big football ratings bookended the final week before the start of the new season, which also saw good starts and finishes for most broadcast reality shows.

The exception was NBC’s “The Apprentice,” which opened very quietly one night after a big finish for the net’s “America’s Got Talent.” CBS, meanwhile, scored Wednesday with the launch of “Survivor” on its new night followed by the conclusion of “Big Brother.”

And on the scripted side, NBC’s “Parenthood” kicked off its second season with winning numbers while CW’s new drama “Hellcats” and “Nikita” held up reasonably well in their second outings.

Overall, according to Nielsen, NBC prevailed in adults 18-49 with a 2.8 rating/8 share, followed by CBS (2.2/7), ABC, Univision and ESPN (all 1.6/5), Fox (1.4/4) and CW (1.0/3). The Peacock also led in adults 25-54 (3.3/9), persons 12-34 (1.9/7) and total viewers (8.9 million).

NBC claimed the week’s No. 1 program in “Sunday Night Football” (9.2/24 in 18-49, 23.10 million viewers overall for Colts-Giants), which delivered one of the franchise’s top five scores to date despite being a lopsided game. And ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” doubleheader ranked second and third for the week in demos with the early game between the Ravens and Jets (6.3/20 in 18-49, 14.97m) and the nightcap between the Chiefs and Chargers (5.5/18, 11.89m), which did well despite not wrapping until after 1 a.m. in the East.

Both primetime packages are off to their best starts since launching in 2006.

Elsewhere in primetime last week, CBS’ “Survivor” made a successful move to Wednesday (4.0/13 in 18-49, 12.23m), winning a crowded reality hour in 18-49. It led into the two-hour season finale of “Big Brother” (2.9.8, 7.86m).

NBC won Wednesday, though, as “America’s Got Talent” had an impressive finale (3.9/11, 16.41m) — wrapping with its best 18-49 score in three years while drawing its largest overall audience to date. It was followed by a special preview of new drama “Outlaw” (2.3/7, 10.68m), which will air regularly on Fridays.

One night earlier, “Talent” (3./11, 14.60m) helped provide a good lead-in for the second-season preem of “Parenthood” (2.7/8, 7.60m).

At CW, “Hellcats” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.64 million viewers overall) declined a bit from its premiere while lead-in “America’s Next Top Model” (1.3/4, 2.88m) held steady. The college cheerleading drama is retaining a solid enough percentage of its lead-in (including 86% in 18-34), but “Model” isn’t the big young-adult draw it once was.

And “Nikita” (1.2/3, 3.20m) again looked good relative to its “Vampire Diaries” lead-in in broad categories, but held a less impressive 71% of “Vampire” in adults 18-34 rating (1.2 vs. 1.7).

Net, airing originals on four of five nights, tied ABC for second last week in women 18-34 (1.6/5).

On the not-so-hot list last week was NBC’s season preem of “The Apprentice” on Thursday (1.5/4, 4.57m) and CBS spec “Fashion’s Night Out” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.72m), which placed 12th in its Tuesday 10 p.m. timeslot among 18-49.

Nickelodeon’s “Fred: The Movie,” starring Lucas Cruikshank as Internet and YouTube sensation Fred Figglehorn, drew a big 7.60 million viewers on Saturday to top all of cable for the week.

Also of note, HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” opened well Sunday (2.0/6, 4.81m); FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” had a good second week (1.8/5, 3.37m), winning its Wednesday hour in men 18-49 (2.3/7); MTV’s “Teen Mom” (2.1/6, 3.67m) led its Tuesday hour in women 18-34 (4.7/14); and TNT’s “The Closer” (7.21 million) and “Rizzoli and Isles” (6.56 million) were cable’s top scripted series in both adults 25-54 and total viewers.

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