NBC scores big with pros; record for ABC's college game

When it comes to Thanksgiving week, football is as much a tradition as turkey and pumpkin pie.

Last week, NBC aired two NFL games to dominate both Thanksgiving itself and its usual “Sunday Night Football” slot while ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” rolled to kick off the frame. And not to be outdone, ABC chimed in with record numbers for its “Saturday Night Football” college football matchup between Notre Dame and USC.

That game, which the Fighting Irish won to advance to the championship game in January, drew a big 5.1 rating/15 share in adults 18-49 and 16.06 million viewers overall. It was the fall’s most-watched college football game, easily surpassing the 11.35 million (and 4.0/15 in the demo) who watched Alabama take on LSU in primetime on CBS earlier this month.

This was also the largest audience since ABC started airing “Saturday Night Football” in 2006 and also the fifth most-popular regular-season college game in at least 20 years.

Elsewhere, numerous entertainment series were preempted or aired repeats during the holiday week, and some of those that did air originals — including the usually steady CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and ABC’s “Revenge” — paid the price with season lows.

The two football games and two nights of “The Voice” carried NBC to an across-the-board ratings victory.

In adults 18-49, NBC led with a 3.2 rating/9 share, followed by Fox (2.2/6), ABC (2.1/6), CBS (1.8/5) and Univision (1.4/4). The victory makes it eight of nine weeks this fall that the Peacock has at least shared first place in the demo, and the net is now up a hefty 23% year to year.

The Peacock also led comfortably in adults 25-54 and even finished ahead of CBS in total viewers — its first such in-season victory since the net aired the Super Bowl earlier this year.

For NBC, the NFL dominated Thursday with the net’s first-ever primetime Thanksgiving game (7.1/23 in 18-49, 19.21m for Patriots-Jets) and at week’s end with “Sunday Night Football” (7.6/18, 20.85m for Packers-Giants), though both games would have rated higher if they hadn’t been such lopsided contests.

“The Voice” was below average at the start of the holiday week but stood as the top series in 18-49 on both Monday (3.4/10, 9.47m) and Tuesday (3.4/10, 9.47m).

Also in the holiday week, Fox’s Tuesday comedy block hit a season low, with “New Girl” dropping to a 2.0/6 in 18-49 and newbie “The Mindy Project” following with its low (1.3/4).

The net’s “X Factor” was below average on Wednesday (2.2/7, 7.28m) but perked up on Thanksgiving (2.8/9, 9.03m) thanks to a healthy lead-in from football. And also getting a boost from football were Sunday’s “The Simpsons” (3.3/98, 7.46m) and “Family Guy” (2.9/6, 5.77m).

ABC, which preempted its Wednesday lineup, didn’t have a whole lot going on the entertainment side though “Dancing With the Stars” (2.4/6, 14.28m) matched its best score since opening night. Friday’s comedies held steady (1.4/4 in 18-49 for both “Last Man Standing” and “Malibu Country”), rating higher than either of Tuesday’s half-hours (1.1/3 for “Happy Endings” and 0.9/2 for “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23″).

Thursday’s 90-minute Michael Jackson doc “Bad” (1.2/4, 4.60m) was no match for football.

CBS had a good start to the week, including a season high on Monday for “Hawaii Five-0″ (2.2/6, 9.02m) and a rebound for Tuesday rookie “Vegas” (1.8/5, 10.12m). It also led Wednesday even if “Survivor” (2.3/8, 9.37m) and “Criminal Minds” (2.7/8, 11.53m) dropped off.

It kicked off its holiday-season specials with mixed results Friday. “Frosty the Snowman” did well enough opening the night (2.0/6, 6.77m), but the preem of “SpongeBob Christmas” didn’t soak up many viewers at 9:30 (0.9/2, 3.61m). And 10 p.m. interview special “Person to Person,” spotlighting New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees among others, did not click (0.6/2, 2.98m).

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” had another monster Sunday (5.4/13, 10.43m), ruling as TV’s top entertainment series in 18-49 for the week.

Nickelodeon said goodbye Friday to “iCarly” with a big 6.43 million viewers, including 2.8 million kids 2-11 and 2.6 million tweens 9-14.

And BET’s “Soul Train Awards” did solid numbers Sunday (1.4/4, 3.40m), on par with last year.

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