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NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’ Dominates in Season Opener

Cowboys-Giants matchup delivers franchise's fifth largest overnight rating in its eight seasons

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” crushed the competition in its season premiere last night, as the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants matchup delivered one of the franchise’s best overnight scores to date.

In Nielsen’s metered markets, the football game — won 36-31 by the Cowboys — averaged a 16.6 household rating/27 share, up a bit in rating from the 16.2/29 generated by Thursday’s special kickoff opener between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. The game did a 36.2 rating in Dallas and a 19.5 in New York.

Among all Sunday night regular-season games on NBC since it took over the “SNF” package in 2006, last night’s game earned the fifth highest rating (though it was a bit behind last year’s opener between Pittsburgh and Denver in Peyton Manning’s premiere with his new team). Among the seven Giants-Cowboys contests to air on NBC, Sunday’s game rates second only to a Week 17 game that determined the NFC East champion in January 2012.

Preliminary demo and total-viewer data for “Sunday Night Football” were unavailable due to time zone differences, but NBC’s stations averaged a 9.1 rating/23 share in adults 18-49 and 23.3 million viewers overall from 8:30 to 11 p.m. — with the final numbers for the game expected to rise in the nationals.

Football drew more than five times the young-adult audience of the top broadcast entertainment series on the night, CBS’ “Big Brother” (1.9 rating/5 share in 18-49, 6.8 million viewers overall), which started at 9 p.m. in much of the country due to a tennis overrun. “60 Minutes” ran at 8 p.m. in much of the country, garnering a 1.9/5 in 18-49 and 8.8 million viewers overall. The summer finale of “Unforgettable,” delayed until 10 p.m. in much of the country, did a 0.9/2 in 18-49 and 5.2 million viewers overall.

At ABC, the first night of its special week of “Shark Tank” repeats saw the reality show doing a 1.0/3 in 18-49 and 3.6 million viewers overall in the 8 o’clock hour. It was followed by the finale of “Secret Millionaire” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall), which hit a three-week high and was up over its year-ago season-ender.

Fox followed a football overrun with repeats of “The Simpsons” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall), “Bob’s Burgers” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall) and “Family Guy” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall at 9 p.m. and 1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall at 9:30).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 7.2/19; Fox, 3.9/11; CBS, 1.6/4; ABC, 0.9/2; Univision, 0.6/2; Telemundo, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: NBC, 18.7 million; Fox, 9.9 million; CBS, 7.2 million; ABC, 3.9 million; Univision, 1.8 million; Telemundo, 0.8 million.

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