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Cowboys-Eagles Nail-Biter on NBC Dominates Sunday Night Ratings

Elimination game on the NFL season's final day delivers net's third best overnight score of 2013

The Dallas Cowboys may be a mediocre football team, but they continue to be a great ratings draw. Last night’s game between the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, an elimination game on the final day of the regular season, delivered the third best overnight score of the season for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and crushed everything else in primetime.

Preliminary, affiliate-based nationals from Nielsen are always murky for live events, but NBC stations averaged an 8.1 rating/21 share in adults 18-49 and 23.9 million viewers overall from 8:30 to 11 p.m., with these numbers expected to rise by 15% or more when the nationals come in Tuesday.

In Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, “Sunday Night Football” earned a 16.8 household rating — the franchise’s third best score of the football season, behind Denver-Indianapolis in October (17.3) and Denver-New England in November (17.0). The game, won 24-22 by the Eagles, peaked with an 18.0 overnight rating from 11 to 11:30 p.m. ET.

And among all primetime, regular-season Sunday night football games on NBC since it acquire “SNF” in 2006, last night’s game ranks seventh. A year ago, in the same win-and-in situation for the NFC East crown, the Cowboys’ game against the Washington Redskins did an 18.3 overnight rating — NBC’s best “SNF” to date.

In the local markets, Sunday’s game did a 40.1 household rating/58 share in Philadelphia (a “SNF” local-market record) and a 37.0/60 in Dallas.

Elsewhere, the “Kennedy Center Honors” on CBS settled for a 0.9 rating/2 share in adults 18-49 and 7.1 million viewers overall from 9 to 11 p.m. — down sharply from last year’s 1.4 demo rating and 8.2 million viewers overall. The show moved to Sunday this year after traditionally airing midweek. It’s hard to get a read on the numbers for “60 Minutes,” which did roughly a 2.3/6 in 18-49 and 11.3 million viewers overall from 7:30 to 9 p.m., though these numbers include some football action.

Like CBS, Fox scored well in the night’s opening hour with NFL action. From 8 to 10 p.m., the net aired repeats of “The Simpsons” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall at 8, and 1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall at 8:30), “Family Guy” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall) and latenight series “Animation Domination High-Def” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.2 million viewers overall).

ABC aired repeats of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) and the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall). “Sorcerer’s Stone” was up more than 20% vs. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” on the comparable Sunday of a year ago.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 6.5/17; Fox, 2.9/8; CBS, 1.8/5; ABC, 1.1/3; Univision, 0.7/2; Telemundo, 0.5/1.

In total viewers: NBC, 19.2 million; CBS, 9.8 million; Fox, 8.7 million; ABC, 4.2 million; Univision, 2.1 million; Telemundo, 1.2 million.

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