Even in preseason, NFL dominates Thursday

A preseason matchup of two of the NFL’s most popular teams , the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles , lifted Fox to victory in key demos Thursday, a night on which CBS’ ”Big Brother” remained the top-rated broadcast series.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, Fox’s coverage of the National Football League contest between the Steelers and Eagles, two teams from Pennsylvania that hold big national appeal, averaged a 3.0 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 8.4 million viewers overall on the net’s stations from 8 to 11. These numbers are subject to revision since the live nature of sports isn’t accurately reflected in affiliate-based preliminaries, but the game is expected to show significant growth vs. last year’s comparable game (Patriots-Falcons), which earned a 2.0 demo rating in the nationals.

Fox is expected to win the night in all key demos as well as total viewers.

At CBS, repeats of ”The Big Bang Theory” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 7.3 million viewers overall) and ”Rules of Engagement” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall) were followed by ”Big Brother” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 8.0 million viewers overall), which was easily the No. 1 broadcast series on Thursday in all key categories and again up vs. last year. Closing out the night was a repeat of ”The Mentalist” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 6.0 million viewers overall). The Eye’s program averages may come down in the nationals due to a football preemption in the Boston market for the Patriots’ preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

ABC’s ”Wipeout” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 6.7 million viewers overall), ”Expedition Impossible” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall) and ”Rookie Blue” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall) all edged up from last week when the net’s lineup was ravaged by football preemptions.

NBC had another low-rated Thursday, offering repeats of comedies ”Community” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.2 million viewers overall), ”Parks and Recreation” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.8 million viewers overall), ”The Office” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall) and ”30 Rock” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall) followed by an encore of crime drama ”Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 3.0/9; CBS, 2.0/6; ABC, 1.5/5; NBC, 0.8/3; CW, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: Fox, 8.4 million; CBS, 7.0 million; ABC, 5.3 million; NBC, 2.5 million; CW, 1.0 million.

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