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Bowl games lift cable network to second place

As it does every year at this time, football decided the winners and losers in last week’s ratings race.

Season leader NBC, whose final NFL game of the season last Saturday was far and away the top primetime program of the Dec. 30-Jan. 5 frame, dominated the week in all demos as well as total viewers, according to Nielsen estimates.

ESPN rode five nights of college football bowl games to a rare second-place finish for the week in 18-49, and Fox used a huge NFL overrun and a bowl game of its own to place third.

CBS had the week’s No. 1 non-sports program in 18-49 with “The Big Bang Theory” (5.4) and ABC had the No. 2 such show with its 10 p.m. portion of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” (3.8). But without football, these nets were also-rans for the frame.

How big a draw is the NFL these days? NBC’s coverage of the New Orleans-Philadelphia Wild-Card game delivered the largest audience ever for a Saturday game of the league’s opening round: 34.36 million. And in adults 18-49, its 11.4 rating was more than double “The Big Bang Theory” (5.4).

The biggest football game and telecast of the week actually aired outside of primetime, as Fox’s late-afternoon San Francisco-Green Bay contest drew a whopping 47.09 million — the most-watched Wild-Card game of all time.

Of note among series on the broadcast network last week, ABC saw a modest start for the second season of its cooking competition series “The Taste” (1.3/3 in 18-49), which had premiered much stronger on a Tuesday a year ago. But the “Taste” looked great compared with the show premiering behind it, limited-run spy series “The Assets” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.77m).

On Sunday, ABC’s “Revenge” returned off its cliffhanger to deliver its best numbers since early October (1.8/4 in 18-49, 6.80m).

At NBC, the one-hour season premiere of “Community” did modest numbers (1.3/4 in 18-49, 3.49m) but still out-rated the demo scores of the first-year half-hours that followed it, “Sean Saves the World” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.79m) and “Michael J. Fox Show” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.50m).

Fox’s best scores came on Sunday when its animated laffers followed football. “The Simpsons” was well above average at 8 (4.6/11 in 18-49, 9.74m) and “Bob’s Burgers” (2.9/7 in 18-49, 5.77m) followed with its best demo rating in a year.

WEEKLY NETWORK AVERAGES

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)

NBC             2.6/7
Fox              2.2/6
ABC             1.3/4
CBS             1.2/3
UNI             1.0/3
TEL             0.5/2
CW              0.4/1

Total Viewers

NBC            8.54 million
CBS             6.80 million
Fox             6.61 million
ABC            5.06 million
UNI            2.63 million
TEL            1.34 million
CW              1.10 million

WEEK’S TOP PRIMETIME PROGRAMS
(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.   NFL Wild Card-Saturday: New Orleans-Philadelphia (NBC), 11.4/32
2.   The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 5.4/16
3.   Sugar Bowl-Thursday: Alabama-Oklahoma (ESPN), 5.2/15
4.  The Simpsons (Fox), 4.6/11
5.  New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (ABC), 3.8/13
6.  Orange Bowl-Friday: Clemson-Ohio State (ESPN), 3.6/11
7.  Fiesta Bowl-Wednesday: Baylor-Central Florida (ESPN), 3.5/10
8.  Family Guy (Fox), 3.1/7
9.  Bob’s Burgers (Fox), 2.9/7
10.  The Millers (CBS), 2.8/8
11.  American Dad (Fox), 2.5/6
12.  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 2.2/6
13.  New Year’s Rockin’ Eve: 30 Greatest Women in Music (ABC), 2.0/7
13.  The Crazy Ones (CBS), 2.0/5
15.  Cotton Bowl-Friday: Missouri-Oklahoma State (Fox), 1.9/6
15.  Best of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC), 1.9/5
17.  New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly (NBC), 1.8/6
17.  Elementary (CBS), 1.8/5
17.  Revenge (ABC), 1.8/4
17.  The Bachelor: Countdown to Juan Pablo (ABC), 1.8/4

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  NFL Wild Card-Saturday: New Orleans-Philadelphia (NBC), 34.36
2.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 19.20
3.   Sugar Bowl-Thursday: Alabama-Oklahoma (ESPN), 16.34
4.  New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (ABC), 12.18
5.  Orange Bowl-Friday: Clemson-Ohio State (ESPN), 11.40
6.  The Millers (CBS), 11.33
7.  Fiesta Bowl-Wednesday: Baylor-Central Florida (ESPN), 11.30
8.  The Mentalist (CBS), 10.22
9.  The Simpsons (Fox), 9.74
10.  The Good Wife (CBS), 9.41
11.  Elementary (CBS), 9.03
12.  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 8.74
13.  The Crazy Ones (CBS), 8.20
14.  NCIS-r (CBS), 8.14
15.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 8.03
16.  60 Minutes (CBS), 7.95
17.  Dateline-Friday (NBC), 7.93
18.  Alamo Bowl-Monday: Oregon-Texas (ESPN), 7.55
19.  New Year’s Rockin’ Eve: 30 Greatest Women in Music (ABC), 7.52
20.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 7.12

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