Football dominated primetime on Sunday, with both the late-afternoon game on CBS between Pittsburgh and Dallas and the “Sunday Night Football” contest on NBC between San Francisco and New England drawing some of the NFL’s largest audiences of the season.
The evening also included a roughly 23-minute address to the nation by President Obama from Newtown, Conn., regarding the elementary school shooting that took place there on Friday. All major networks carried the President’s comments, which took place in the 8:30 p.m. ET half-hour.
Numbers as always as unreliable for live sports action, but the primetime conclusion of the Steelers-Cowboys game (from roughly 7 to 7:55 p.m. ET) is projected to draw about 30 million viewers, and when the finals come in it could be among the season’s top two or three games. From there, CBS aired “60 Minutes” and President Obama’s address to the nation on the Newtown shooting, averaging a 4.6/11 in 18-49 and 17.8 million viewers overall in the 8 o’clock hour.
The season finale of “Survivor” didn’t get on the air until about 9 p.m. in much of the country, and its preliminary averages (3.2/8 in 18-49, 11.1 million viewers overall) suggest the Philippines-set edition should come in above the spring season’s finale. A reunion show followed, but aired out of primetime in a good deal of the country.
NBC did big numbers for its attractive matchup of the 49ers and Patriots, averaging a 7.6/18 in 18-49 and 20.2 million viewers overall from 8:30 to 11. These numbers are subject to significant revision due to expected big numbers on the West Coast for the 49ers and the fact that the game extended past midnight in the East.
The 49ers won a wild one, 41-34, pulling ahead late after blowing a 28-point lead to the Patriots. NBC will win the night among young adults, and was neck and neck with CBS for the lead in total viewers, according to the preliminaries.
In Nielsen’s metered markets, the game did a big 15.2 household rating/24 share — the third highest NBC score of the football season and one that should translate to nearly 23 million viewers overall. The afternoon game on CBS did a 17.2/30 in the overnights.
Elsewhere, Fox aired an original episode of “The Cleveland Show” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall), “The Simpsons” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) and “Bob’s Burgers” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall), followed by encores of “Family Guy” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 3.3 million viewers overall) and “American Dad” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 3.3 million viewers overall). The net’s male-leaning lineup was below average, as would be expected opposite the big football action.
ABC had a very quiet night, as the special “The Bachelorette: Ashley and J.P.’s Wedding” settled for a mere 0.9/2 in 18-49 and 3.4 million viewers overall from 9:30 to 11. Earlier, the net aired repeats of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall) and “Wipeout” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall).
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 6.2/15; CBS, 4.9/12; Fox, 1.5/4; Univision, 1.2/3; ABC, 1.1/3.
In total viewers: CBS, 17.0 million; NBC, 16.9 million; ABC, 4.2 million; Fox, 3.3 million; Univision, 3.1 million.