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Football wins Sunday ratings race

NFL preseason contest carries the night

CBS saw “Big Brother” post more impressive numbers Sunday, but it was NBC’s preseason NFL “Sunday Night Football” contest between Minnesota and San Francisco that carried the night in key ratings categories.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen based on affiliate ratings, NBC’s stations averaged a 3.0 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 9.3 million viewers overall from 8 to 11 p.m. for its coverage of the NFL game, which featured the first preseason action for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. National ratings are expected to rise since they don’t include football viewing on the West Coast.

In metered-market overnight Nielsens, the game earned a 7.2 household rating/12 share — matching the delivery of the preseason game two weeks earlier on NBC between the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals. It did a 21.3/35 in Minneapolis and a 12.4/28 in San Francisco.

Elsewhere, CBS reality veteran “Big Brother” was the top non-sports program on the broadcast networks in adults 18-49 (2.6/8), rising week to week while drawing 7.8 million viewers overall. Also for the net, “60 Minutes” averaged a 1.1/4 in 18-49 and 8.2 million viewers overall kicking off the night, and repeats of “Undercover Boss” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.7 million viewers overall) and “CSI: Miami” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) followed “Big Brother.”

Fox hung in there with animated repeats, averaging a 1.8/5 in 18-49 and 4.0 million viewers overall for a pair of “The Simpsons” episodes in the 8 o’clock hour and a 2.3/6 in 18-49 and 4.9 million viewers overall for two “Family Guy” episodes from 9 to 10.

ABC did OK with encores of alternative series “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.3/5 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall) before falling off with a second “Home Edition” repeat at 9 (1.2/3 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall) and original drama “The Gates” at 10 (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 2.7/8; CBS and Fox, 1.7/5; ABC, 1.3/4; Univision, 0.6/2.

In total viewers: NBC, 8.6 million; CBS, 6.8 million; ABC, 5.0 million; Fox, 3.8 million; Univision, 1.4 million.

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