Football a touchdown for NBC

Fox's 'Hole in the Wall' brings in solid numbers

NBC dominated the first Sunday of September behind the premiere of “Sunday Night Football,” while Fox received good sampling for its new unscripted show “Hole in the Wall.”

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, the football contest between the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts averaged a potent 6.7 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 and 16.7 million viewers overall on NBC’s affiliates from 8:30 to 11 p.m., with some revisions likely in the nationals due out Tuesday. The Bears’ upset victory is expected to come in a bit below last year’s opener between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

Elsewhere, following a football overrun and postgame show, Fox’s special half-hour preview of “Hole in the Wall” averaged a 3.5/9 in 18-49 and 7.0 million viewers overall during the 8 o’clock half-hour, placing second to football coverage on NBC. The series will air regularly from 8 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, and gets another special preview airing Tuesday night following the series premiere of “Fringe.”

At CBS, live coverage of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship’s women’s final between Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic averaged a 4.3 household rating/7 share in the overnights, up 65% from last year’s 2.6/5 (which aired on lesser-watch Saturday night). Though it didn’t do a lot by primetime standards (drawing roughly 4.8 million viewers), it was the even’ts best result in six years.

Earlier in the day, the Eye posted its best opening-day NFL average in nine years courtesy of Brett Favre’s debut with the New York Jets. The net’s regional coverage during the 1-4:15 p.m. ET window, which was highlighted by the Jets against the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots against the Kansas City Chiefs, averaged an 11.0 household rating/24 share in the metered-market overnights — up 4% from last year’s 10.6/23 and up 24% from an 8.9/20 in 2006.

ABC lagged its rivals on the night despite decent showings from repeats of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall). From 9 to 11 p.m., the special “America: United in Support of Our Troops” settled for a 1.3/3 in 18-49 and 4.4 million viewers overall.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 5.5/14; Fox, 3.2/9; CBS, 1.7/4; ABC, 1.4/4; Univision, 1.0/3; CW, 0.7/2.

In total viewers: NBC, 14.0 million; Fox, 7.0 million; CBS, 6.7 million; ABC, 5.1 million; Univision, 2.5 million; CW, 1.8 million.

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