First two primetime games top 25 million viewers

Football returned to huge numbers last week, and NBC was the biggest beneficiary.

The Peacock’s opening two games of the NFL season — including the “Sunday Night Football” marquee matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets — towered over everything airing in primetime. Each delivered nearly an 11 rating among adults 18-49 while drawing more than 25 million viewers, lifting NBC to a dominant victory.

As usual, the week of Labor Day is one of transition, with some shows — like A&E’s “Storage Wars” and FX’s “Rescue Me” — wrapping in advance of the onslaught of fall broadcast premieres set for next week. And in addition to the National Football League, other series kicking off their fall seasons included FX’s hot “Sons of Anarchy” and Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

Overall for the Sept. 5-11 frame, NBC’s 3.9 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 towered over the competition, with Univision ranking second (1.7/5), followed by Fox (1.6/5), CBS (1.5/4) and ABC (1.5/4). The Peacock also cruised in adults 25-54 (4.4/11) as well as total viewers (11.1 million).

At NBC, whose weekly demo average was the biggest for any network since March, Thursday’s NFL kickoff opener between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints averaged a monster 10.9 rating/30 share in adults 18-49 and 27.17 million viewers oversall. In the demo, this makes the matchup pitting the winners of the last two Super Bowls the top-rated regular-season NFL primetime game to air on a single network in 14 years.

And a few nights later, on the evening of the 10-year commemoration of 9/11, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” opener between the Jets and Cowboys averaged a 10.7/27 in 18-49 and 25.77 million viewers overall — edging out a game from last December to become the most-watched “SNF” game since NBC started the package in 2006.

NBC’s big week included two top-10 perfs in 18-49 by “America’s Got Talent,” including Tuesday’s two-hour performance show (3.1/8, 11.85m). The series was also the most-watched non-football telecast of the week, averaging 12.36 million viewers for Wednesday’s results show.

CBS scored a sizable audience on Sunday with the two-hour special “9/11: 10 Years Later” (3.6/9 in 1849, 12.34m), an updated version of the acclaimed documentary that originally aired in March 2002.

In cable last week, FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” opened its fourth season Tuesday with record numbers (2.5/7 in 18-49, 4.93m), standing as the frame’s No. 1 scripted program among men 25-54 (2.8/7). And the next night, “Rescue Me” wrapped its run on the high side (1.1/3, 2.33m).

Also of note: ESPN scored big with Saturday’s wild college football game between Michigan and Notre Dame (2.9/10, 7.54m); A&E’s “Storage Wars” (2.1/6, 5.33m) hit a series high and became the net’s No. 1 series telecast on record; ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” ended its summer season strong (1.4/4 in 18-49, 2.83m), with its 2.0/7 in persons 12-34 the best for any TV show Monday night; BET’s season finale of “Sunday Best” drew a franchise-best 2.11 million viewers; Disney Channel’s Friday comedy “Phineas and Ferb” drew its largest aud yet among both kids 6-11 (2.1 million) and boys 6-11 (1.1 million); truTV’s “Hardcore Pawn” drew a series-high 2.49 million viewers Tuesday, while on the same night, new Warner Bros. Animation comedy “The Looney Tunes Show” delivered series highs in key demos as well as total viewers (2.56 million).

And at Bravo, the season preem of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” averaged 2.18 million viewers Monday — a big gain over the show’s series premiere of last year but not a series record. It was the first episode of the show since the August suicide of one of its participants.

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