NFL ratings go long

'Surreal Life 2' off to strong start for WB

A weekend of thrilling NFL action produced boffo ratings for Fox and CBS, highlighted by the late Philadelphia-Green Bay overtime contest, which scored the best numbers for pro football’s conference semifinal round in seven years.

According to Nielsen’s metered-market overnights for the weekend, the four National Football League games on Fox and CBS combined for 81.7 household ratings points, virtually flat vs. last year (81.8) but up 4% from two seasons ago (78.7) and 19% better than three seasons ago (68.7).

Leading the way was the Philadelphia Eagles’ 20-17 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the late contest Sunday on Fox (4:45-8:15 p.m. ET). Game’s 25.3 overnight rating/41 share was up 7% from last year’s late New York Jets-Oakland game on CBS and the highest rating on any net for a conference semifinal contest since 1997 (28.5/49 for Dallas-Carolina on Fox).

The early Sunday game on CBS, a 38-31 victory for Indianapolis over Kansas City, earned a 20.6/40 in the overnights, virtually flat with last year’s 20.7/40 for San Francisco-Tampa Bay on Fox.

Saturday’s first game, in which Carolina defeated St. Louis 29-23 in double overtime, netted an 18.5/33 in the overnights on Fox, off 9% from last year’s 20.3/36 for Pittsburgh-Cleveland on CBS. The primetime AFC game on CBS (New England defeating Tennessee 17-14) posted a 17.3/27, up 1% from last year’s late game on Fox (17.2/27 for Atlanta-Philadelphia).

Rooting for the home team

Best local-market ratings of the weekend came Sunday in two markets where the hometown fave lost: a 54.5/76 in Milwaukee for the Packers on Fox, and a 52.1/79 in Kansas City for the Chiefs on CBS.

The NFL playoffs continue this Sunday with the AFC Championship on CBS at 3 p.m. ET (Indianapolis at New England) followed by the NFC Championship on Fox at 6:45 ET (Carolina at Philadelphia).

Thanks to the nearly 90-minute NFL overrun Sunday, Fox dominated primetime in all key categories, including its best Sunday 18-49 average (prelim 10.3/24) in the nearly two years since the 2002 Super Bowl. Of course, net will top this past Sunday’s rating this Sunday when its NFC Championship game airs almost entirely in primetime.

At CBS, the 30th annual “People’s Choice Awards” averaged a 4.1/10 in adults 18-49 and 13.9 million viewers overall from 9 to 11, down from last year, when it was the Eye net that benefited from a big NFL overrun.

‘Surreal’ strong

The WB’s premiere of “Surreal Life 2,” featuring the exploits of Tammy Faye Messner and Erik Estrada, averaged a hearty 2.7 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 and 5.2 million viewers overall, according to preliminary Nielsen nationals — flat with the premiere of the original edition last January on a Thursday.

Skein, which this time around will air an hourlong seg each week, delivered a 3.1/8 in adults 18-34 and a 3.3/9 in femmes 12-34. If the numbers hold up in nationals, these will be best-ever series deliveries for the Frog in the Sunday-at-9 hour.

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