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NFL Returns Down, Wins Night for NBC; ‘Big Brother’ Top Series

The NFL returned on Sunday with its annual Hall of Fame Game, down in the ratings from last year’s contest but big enough to dethrone CBS’ “Big Brother” as the night’s top program among young adults.

According to preliminary affiliate-based national estimates from Nielsen, NBC’s telecast of the Hall of Fame exhibition game between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills averaged a 2.5 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 and 7.6 million viewers overall on the network’s stations from 8 to 11 p.m., with these numbers expected to rise by roughly 10% in the nationals when all West Coast viewing is accurately included. Last year’s game, featuring the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, did a 3.3 demo rating in the prelims and a 3.8 in the nationals (and 10.1 million total viewers).

In Nielsen’s metered-market households, probably the most reliable apples-to-apples comparison for sports, the game was down 15% from last year (5.8 vs. 6.7).

The Peacock opened the night with the special “Wrestlemania” (1.2/5 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall), which led its time period in demos (though these numbers figure to be inflated some by football in the West).

Elsewhere, the averages for CBS are subject to change, as golf action ran until about 7:07 p.m. ET and the network opted to start all of its programs late in most of the country. “60 Minutes” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall) was followed by “Big Brother” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 6.7 million viewers overall), which seemed to lose younger viewers to football; it was down from the 2.2 demo rating it had done the three previous weeks.

From 9 to 11 p.m., CBS firstrun dramas “Unforgettable” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) and “Reckless” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) were flat week to week.

ABC opened with an encore “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall), which was its top program of the night. It was followed by “Wipeout” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall), which was up a tick from last week, and an expanded two-hour “Rising Star” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall), which was also up a tenth from last week’s hourlong episode.

Fox aired repeats of animated comedies “American Dad” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.3 million viewers overall), “Bob’s Burgers” (0.6/3 in 18-49, 1.4 million viewers overall), “The Simpsons” at both 8 (1.1/4 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall) and 8:30 (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.4 million viewers overall), “Family Guy” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall) and a second “American Dad” at 9:30 (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 2.2/8; CBS, 1.1/4; ABC and Fox, 0.9/3; Univision, 0.7/2; Telemundo, 0.4/2.

In total viewers: NBC, 6.7 million; CBS, 6.2 million; ABC, 3.9 million; Fox, 2.0 million; Univision, 1.8 million; Telemundo, 1.0 million.

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