‘Once Upon a Time’ opens boffo for ABC

Fantasy series is fall's top new drama

ABC’s fantasy drama “Once Upon a Time” opened to impressive ratings Sunday night, including the best demo score for any drama premiere this season.

According to Nielsen preliminaries, “Time” — a modern retelling of fairy tales and their back story, from “Lost” exec producers Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis — earned a 3.9 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 12.8 million viewers overall, standing as the No. 1 non-sports program of the night and improving in its second half-hour.

This was the net’s best 18-49 showing with regular programming in Sunday’s 8 o’clock hour since “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in November 2008.

The Alphabet waited more than a month after the start of the season to launch the femme-friendly series, and then picked the Sunday that had both NBC (“Sunday Night Football”) and Fox (World Series) airing sports. Roughly two-thirds of the premiere-night 18-49 aud of “Time” was female.

Fox won the night with its combination of an NFL overrun and then Game 4 of the Fall Classic between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. The game averaged a 4.0/10 in adults 18-49 and 13.6 million viewers on Fox’s stations from 8 to 11 p.m., with these numbers expected to rise in the final nationals due to time-zone differences.

The New Orleans Saints’ 62-7 wipeout of Indianapolis predictably netted the lowest “Sunday Night Football” score of the season, with the game earning a 4.6/11 in 18-49 and 11.3 million viewers on NBC’s stations from 8:30 to 11. After starting the season with a flurry of close games that kept viewers watching throughout the night, the Peacock has suffered through some mismatches the last two weeks and ratings have suffered.

“SNF” is expected to rebound nicely over the next few weeks, though, as it airs divisional rivalry games like Dallas-Philadelphia, Baltimore-Pittsburgh and New England-New York Jets.

The strong showing of 8 o’clock newbie “Once Upon a Time” lifted ABC an hour later as well. “Desperate Housewives” (prelim 3.0/7 in 18-49, 9.2 million) perked up in both the demo and overall audience, drawing more than 1 million more viewers than a week ago.

The improved “Housewives” was able to distance itself a bit further than usual in the demo from CBS’ “The Good Wife” (prelim 2.0/5, 9.6 million), which lost only a little traction from last week. Also of note: CBS had a football overrun of about 20 minutes in several markets, which may slightly skew “Good Wife” ratings.”

Earlier in the night, CBS did well with “60 Minutes” (prelim 2.5/7, 12.6 million), featuring an interview with former Apple guru Steve Jobs. Following that, “The Amazing Race” (prelim 2.7/7, 9.9 million) was on par from last week.

At 10 p.m., “CSI: Miami” (prelim 2.1/5, 9.7 million) was down slightly from last week but was still good enough to defeat ABC’s “Pan Am” (prelim 1.8/5, 5.7 million), which was flat week to week.

(Rick Kissell contributed to this report.)

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