Sunday was a day for high drama on television, as Americans spent much of the day watching the games that decided this year’s Super Bowl participants and then settled in for some drama of the scripted variety.
ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” put up more gaudy Nielsens, despite facing football in much of the country, and CBS drew significant sampling for crime drama “Numbers” in a special post-pigskin preview.
When Nielsen releases national ratings for Sunday primetime today, CBS’ combo of football and “Numbers” is expected to produce the highest-rated night of television on any net this season.
Football dominated on Fox and then CBS from 3-10 p.m. ET, with the two conference championship games (Philadelphia Eagles-Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots-Pittsburgh Steelers) averaging a big 27.8 household rating/43 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights — up 7% from last year but down slightly from two years ago.
The Eagles’ victory in the National Football Conference matchup on Fox (3-6:15 p.m. ET) averaged a 28.6/48 in the metered markets to become the highest-rated NFL playoff game (excluding Super Bowls) on any network in eight years (30.7/56 for Carolina-Green Bay on Fox). Game drew a 57.4/74 in Philadelphia and a 47.1/70 in Atlanta.
And the defending champion Patriots’ triumph in the American Football Conference championship on CBS (6:30-9:45 p.m. ET) netted a 27.0/38 in the local markets, with Boston delivering a 52.0/67 and Pittsburgh a 57.0/74. AFC title game was the highest rated in six years (27.2/47 for Denver Broncos-New York Jets).
The Super Bowl, pitting the Patriots against the Eagles, will be televised Feb. 6 on Fox.
On the entertainment side Sunday, new CBS drama “Numbers” took advantage of its football lead-in to attract 21 million viewers and a 19 share in adults 18-49. (These prelims are sketchy due to time zone differences and will go up in nationals, perhaps adding 2 million-3 million more viewers to its average.)
“Numbers,” starring Rob Morrow and David Krumholtz, shifts to its regular Friday-at-10 slot this week.
At ABC, “Desperate Housewives” (prelim 11.1/22 in adults 18-49, 25.9 million viewers overall) was flat vs. last week’s demo average and up in overall total viewers — its second-largest aud to date — despite facing football in much of the country.
ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was a strong second at 8 (prelim 7.4/15 in 18-49, 18.2 million) and “Boston Legal” (prelim 6.0/14 in 18-49, 15.8 million) was second to “Numbers” at 10; law skein is expected to come in with its largest overall aud this season.
Fox was led by a repeat of “The Simpsons” at 8 (prelim 3.6/7 in 18-49, 7.9 million), while NBC struggled mightily with “American Dreams” at 8 (prelim 2.2/4 in 18-49, 7.4 million) and theatrical “Bridget Jones’s Diary” from 9 to 11 (prelim 2.3/5, 6.5 million).