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NBC gets kick out of NFL’s return

Football's a hit for Peacock

NBC, which has experienced its share of fumbles in recent years, welcomed back the National Football League with open arms Sunday.

Evening’s primetime Hall of Fame contest between the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles was the top-rated program for the week of July 31-Aug. 6 in key demos and drew 10.6 million viewers overall — up vs. the 9.1 million for last year’s comparable game on ABC.

Preseason opener was NBC’s first NFL telecast since it aired the Super Bowl in January 1998. In the years since it lost broadcast rights, the Peacock tried with little success to draw a football audience with leagues other than the NFL, failing most famously in 2001 with the XFL, a league formed with the World Wrestling Federation.

This fall, the NFL’s marquee primetime package shifts from Monday (and ABC) to Sunday with the premiere of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” ESPN, which had carried Sunday night games, will pick up “Monday Night Football” from its sister broadcast net.

NBC will air two additional primetime preseason games this month, with CBS and Fox also getting three games. Although not nearly as popular as regular-season contests, these exhibitions typically dominate the competish in late summer and provide a nice promotional platform for fresh fall fare to roll out in the weeks ahead.

In last week’s ratings race, according to in-home viewing estimates by Nielsen, NBC tied CBS for the lead among adults 18-49 (2.3 rating/7 share), with the nets stopping Fox’s winning streak at six weeks. Fox was close behind (2.2/7), followed by ABC (1.8/6) and Univision (1.4/5).

CBS led in adults 25-54 (2.8/8 to 2.7/8 for NBC) and ruled as usual in total viewers (7.4 million to 6.9 million for second-place NBC).

Sunday’s football game on NBC was the frame’s No. 1 show in adults 18-49 (3.9/11) and key male demos and No. 2 in adults 25-54 (4.2/11) behind a repeat of CBS drama “CSI: Miami” (4.3/11).

Also for NBC last week, “Last Comic Standing” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 7.59m) and “America’s Got Talent” (3.1/10, 10.53m) posted solid scores, but neither is picking up much ratings steam as they near their season finales.

At CBS, “Rock Star: Supernova” is rising on both Tuesday (2.9/8 in 18-49, 6.28m) and Wednesday (2.6/9, 5.76m), cracking the top 10 in 18-49 with the former. “Big Brother” also continues to post solid numbers, hitting a Sunday season high (2.4/7, 6.73m).

Eye also had the week’s top two comedy scores with repeats of Monday’s “Two and a Half Men” (3.1/9, 10.08m) and “How I Met Your Mother” (2.8/7, 8.01m); latter has looked good in a couple of special 9:30 airings in recent weeks.

As it has all summer, Fox has been paced by competition skeins “So You Think You Can Dance” (3.7/11 in 18-49, 9.39m) and “Hell’s Kitchen” (3.7/10, 7.84m), with both shows up vs. their year-ago first-season averages.

ABC’s listless lineup got a boost from Wednesday’s “Primetime: Medical Mysteries” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.23m). Net suffered through another weak reality show premiere, though, with Monday’s “One Ocean View” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.48m).

And on Monday of the current week, “One Ocean View” sunk to a dismal 1.1/3 in the demo — so the cancellation clock is ticking.

Univision, riding the popularity of early-evening telenovela “La fea mas bella” (The Prettiest Ugly Girl), ranked third in adults 18-34 (1.7/6) and was the leader among the broadcast nets in kids 2-11 (1.1/5).

Top cable program in 18-49 was USA’s “WWE Raw” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 5.22m), which ranked 41st among all primetime shows for the week. It was followed by TNT’s “The Closer” (1.7/5, 6.93m) and Bravo’s hot “Project Runway” (1.7/5, 3.44m) as well as USA’s “Psych” (1.6/5, 4.72m) and VH1’s “Flavor of Love 2” (1.5/4, 3.33m).

“The Closer” and USA’s “Monk” (5.28 million) were the top scripted series for the sesh in total viewers.

USA, which also continues to get nice results from “The 4400” on Sunday, was the top cable net for the week in 18-49 (1.0/3), adults 25-54 (1.1/3) and total viewers (2.29m). TNT was a close No. 2 in 25-54, and TBS was No. 1 in 18-34.

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