Ratings: Manning Milestone Big for NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’

NBC dominated Sunday’s ratings race with its San Francisco-Denver matchup on “Sunday Night Football,” with audiences tuning in to see Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning make NFL history by throwing his 509th career touchdown pass. Opposite the game, the dramas on ABC and CBS held steady while Fox’s comedy lineup saw gains.

In Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, the Denver Broncos’ 42-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers averaged a 14.8 household rating to become the No. 2-rated “Sunday Night Football” game of the football season (behind the Week 1 game between Denver and Indianapolis). The game turned out to be a lopsided affair, with the Broncos expanding its 21-10 halftime lead with three more touchdowns in the third quatrter.

The game peaked with a 17.0 household rating in the 9:30-10 p.m. ET half-hour, when Manning broke Brett Favre’s NFL record of 508 career touchdown passes. He would go on to throw No. 510 early in the second half, and then sit out the fourth quarter because his team was so far ahead.

In fast nationals that aren’t adjusted for time zone differences, “Sunday Night Football” averaged a 7.0 rating/19 share in adults 18-49 and 20.5 million viewers overall on NBC’s stations between 8:30 and 11 p.m. ET, with these numbers expected to rise by about 10% in the nationals.

Elsewhere, Fox benefited from an NFL overrun, as the closing half-hour of the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game and post-game show “The OT” provided a nice lead-in for the Treehouse of Horror episode of “The Simpsons” (3.5/10 in 18-49, 7.6 million viewers overall), with the show up 6% week to week and standing as the night’s No. 1 broadcast entertainment series in 18-49. It was followed by “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall), which grew 14% week to week, and “Family Guy” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall), which shot up 32% from its most recent original of two weeks ago.

Closing the night for Fox, “Mulaney” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall) held at its low score of last week.

At ABC, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall) was down a tick kicking off the night, and followed by “Once Upon a Time” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 7.9 million viewers overall), which was up slightly from last week and nearly 30% higher than the same night a year ago (2.1). “Resurrection” (1.4/3 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall) held at its week-ago number, and “Revenge” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall) was up a tenth.

For the night, ABC was up vs. the same Sunday of a year ago for the fourth straight week to start the season.

CBS’ numbers are subject to slight revisions due to a roughly 15-minute football overrun in some Eastern and Central time zones. “60 Minutes” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 11.1 million viewers overall) was followed by the steady “Madam Secretary” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall), which again built on its lead-in and was the night’s most-watched broadcast entertainment series overall. “The Good Wife” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 10.8 million viewers overall) was up a tenth, and “CSI” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall) matched its week-ago score.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 5.9/16; Fox, 3.6/10; ABC, 1.6/4; CBS, 1.4/4; Univision, 0.8/2; Telemundo, 0.2/1.

In total viewers: NBC, 17.4 million; CBS, 10.8 million; Fox, 9.0 million; ABC, 5.8 million; Univision, 2.2 million; Telemundo, 0.7 million.

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