CBS tops night with Steelers-Jets playoff game

CBS left every other net in its dust in Sunday’s primetime ratings action, as football’s AFC Championship game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets logged a 24-year ratings high.

In Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, the Steelers’ 24-19 victory over the Jets earned a 31.3 household rating/46 share — the best score for the American Football Conference title game since the Denver-Cleveland matchup in 1987 did a 31.9 rating for NBC. The 31.3 represents a big 32% improvement over the last time CBS had the primetime championship game two years ago (23.8/37 for Pittsburgh-Baltimore) and is up 10% over last year’s late-afternoon AFC game on CBS between the Jets and Indianapolis Colts (28.4/50).

The preliminary, affiliate-based Nielsens showed CBS stations pulling a 17.4 rating/40 share in adults 18-49 and 48.5 million viewers overall from 7 to 10 p.m., but those numbers are unreliable due to the live nature of sports, and are expected to rise when Nielsen issues national ratings on Tuesday. Also a bit murky was how rookie CBS drama “Hawaii Five-0″ fared with its special post-game original episode; from 10 to 11 p.m., CBS stations averaged a 5.7/15 in 18-49 and 18.2 million viewers overall.

Fox dared to air a few original episodes of its animated comedies, with “The Simpsons” faring best at 8 p.m. (3.1/7 in 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall). Following an original “Bob’s Burgers” at 8:30 p.m. (2.2/5 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall) was a repeat “Family Guy” (2.5/5 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall) and an original “The Cleveland Show” (2.4/5 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall).

ABC ran third on the night with originals of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.4/3 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (1.9/4 in 18-49, 7.0 million viewers overall) followed by encores of “Desperate Housewives” (1.1/2 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall) and “Brothers and Sisters” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall).

And NBC, the Sunday ratings leader this season with “Sunday Night Football,” was barely on the radar with its combo of a two-hour “Dateline” (0.6/1 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall) and special movie “Sex and the City: The Movie” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 14.4/34; Fox, 2.4/6; ABC, 1.3/3; NBC, 0.8/2; Univision, 0.6/1.

In total viewers: CBS, 40.9 million; Fox, 5.3 million; ABC, 5.2 million; NBC, 3.6 million; Univision, 1.5 million.

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