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Audiences flock to football

Hefty bow for 'Loser,' 'Brother'

With the new television season still a week away, young adults flocked to primetime football action last week, as NFL games dominated Sunday and Monday and college action ruled on Saturday.

There was a smattering of firstrun entertainment programming on the broadcast nets — with “Big Brother” continuing to shine for CBS and “Biggest Loser” opening to solid numbers on NBC — but pigskin contests outrated them all.

The top programs of the week in adults 18-49 were NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers (6.5/17 in 18-49, 15.32 million viewers overall) and the first half of a doubleheader on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” (4.8/14, 11.08m for Cincinnati-Baltimore); latter became ad-supported cable’s most-watched telecast of 2007.

That meant the Emmy Awards on Fox had to settle for third place in adults 18-49 (4.3/11, 12.95 million viewers overall), as the kudocast barely avoided its lowest audience on record — 12.1 million in 1990 on Fox.

Telecast declined 17% in 18-49 vs. the previous year’s airing on NBC in August (5.2/13) and tumbled 30% below what CBS garnered for the 2005 show in mid-September (6.1/15).

Due to Nielsen processing delays relating to Sunday’s 45-minute NFL overrun on CBS, the network rankings remained preliminary Tuesday. NBC finished on top in adults 18-49 with a 2.3 rating/7 share, followed by Fox (2.2/6), but CBS could tie Fox once the numbers are finalized. ABC (1.8/5) ran fourth, with ESPN (1.6/4) and Univision (1.4/4) not far behind.

CBS carried the week in total viewers with a projected 7.6 million, well ahead of Fox’s 6.5 million and NBC’s 6.2 million.

The Eye’s “Big Brother” had another strong week, led by Thursday’s timeslot-leading perf (3.3/11 in 18-49, 8.89m), while the net’s quizzer “Power of 10” continues to perform fairly well for a summer skein (1.8/5, 6.94m on Tuesday and 2.0/7, 7.77 on Wednesday).

Other firstrun highlights for the week included NBC’s two-hour premiere of “Biggest Loser 4” on Tuesday (3.1/9 in 18-49, 7.84m). It matched or improved upon the premiere scores of last fall’s edition.

Peacock also looked good Wednesday at 9 with the finale of “Last Comic Standing 5” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 8.18m).

ABC’s rather quiet frame picked up late in the week with a winning perf Friday for “20/20” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.63m) and dominant Saturday showing with college football’s USC-Nebraska matchup (2.5/9 in 18-49, 7.10m).

Not clicking during the week: Fox’s premiere of docusoap “Nashville” on Friday (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.68m). Among adults 18-49, it finished behind a repeat on ABC, wrestling on the CW, a repeat on NBC and original drama “Monk” on USA.

ESPN led the cable nets behind “Monday Night Football” and Sunday’s baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees (1.5/4 in 18-49, 4.51m).

USA ran second, led by “WWE Entertainment” on Monday (2.3/6 in 18-49, 5.82m for its 10 o’clock seg) as well as hit dramas “Burn Notice” (1.5/5, 4.02m), “Psych” (1.4/5, 4.15m) and “Monk” (1.3/4).

VH1 had a big Sunday, as “Rock of Love” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 3.53m) racked up its second-best numbers to date and was cable’s top-rated program of the day. In its core femmes 12-34 demo, it tied the Emmys on Fox for the time period lead from 9 to 10 (3.9/11).

Lead-out “Hogan Knows Best” also was strong (1.5/4 in 18-49, 2.40m), logging the highest-rated episode in its four seasons.

TNT’s “The Closer” closed out its season a big winner (2.2/5 in 18-49, 9.21m), again delivering the largest aud on record for an original ad-supported cable series. Compared with the previous summer, the cop drama was up 13% in adults 18-49 and 18% in 25-54.

Elsewhere, MTV’s “The Hills” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 3.66m) ranked among the week’s top 20 primetime programs in adults 18-49 and ranked No. 3 in persons 12-34 (3.3/10), behind only football on NBC and ESPN; FX opened laffer “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” to record numbers Thursday (1.4/4 in 18-49, 2.34m), standing as TV’s No. 1 choice for the 10 o’clock half-hour among adults 18-34 (1.9/6); and ABC Family’s “Greek” ended its first season on a strong note Monday (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.38m), drawing the largest 18-34 aud to date for an original series on the net (695,000).

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