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NFL’s Return Powers NBC to Big Weekly Ratings Victory

Two primetime games top 25 million viewers

There’s nothing quite like two primetime NFL games in a week to boost your ratings average, as NBC learned last week.

The net’s traditional opening games of the season on Thursday and Sunday were easily the top-rated programs for the first full frame of September and helped the Peacock log the largest young-adult audience for any network since the week of Jan. 28-Feb. 3, during which CBS cruised behind the Super Bowl.

Thursday’s NFL Kickoff special between the Denver Broncos and Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens averaged a 10.3 rating/31 share in adults 18-49 and 25.13 million viewers overall, up 6% in the demo from last year’s opener. And the premiere of “Sunday Night Football” between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants did a 10.0/27 in 18-49 and 25.40 million viewers — the top demo delivery for any of the seven primetime games on NBC between these division rivals.

Elsewhere, reality vets “America’s Got Talent” and “Big Brother” picked up steam as they near their finales.

“Talent” hit a three-week high on Tuesday (2.4/7 in 18-49, 9.16 million viewers overall) and a four-week high on Wednesday (2.3/7 in 18-49, million viewers overall), where it moved ahead in the demo over “MasterChef” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.59m), which was Fox’s top show of the week.

And “Big Brother” on Sunday delivered its largest audience on any night this summer (7.26 million), while its hours on Wednesday (2.3/8 in 18-49, 6.75 million viewers overall) and Thursday (2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.23 million viewers overall) matched or set season highs in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers.

NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” finished its season with a high (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.59 million viewers overall), winning its two-hour timeslot in the demo. ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss” also was up as it concluded, tying its summer high in 18-49 (1.3/4) while drawing its largest overall audience (4.02 million) since its premiere in late May.

The week’s top scripted programs in young adults were CBS’ “Under the Dome” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 11.15 million viewers overall), which hit a four-week high, AMC’s “Breaking Bad” (2.6/6 in 18-49, 5.11 million viewers overall) and BET’s “The Game” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 3.77 million viewers overall). Also of note, ABC’s “Mistresses” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.05 million viewers overall) matched its series high in 18-49 while setting new marks in adults 18-34 (1.2/4) and women 18-34 (1.7/5).

The top entertainment series overall in key demos was A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” (4.6/14 in 18-49, 10.46 million viewers overall).

Univision was led by “Porque el Amor Manda,” whose Tuesday and Thursday episodes averaged a 1.9/6 in 18-49, which would have made the top 20 for the week among all primetime programs.

UniMas scored Friday night with its coverage of the World Cup qualifying soccer match between Mexico and Honduras. It drew 3.6 million total viewers and made the network No. 1 on television among adults 18-34.

In cable, ESPN drew big numbers for its college football game Saturday night between Notre Dame and Michigan (3.2/12 in 18-49, 8.65 million viewers overall), placing in the week’s top 5 in 18-49.

Comedy Central’s roast of James Franco scored well on Monday (1.9/5 in 18-49, 3.11 million viewers overall), one of six cable programs to make the week’s top 20 in 18-49.

OWN had its best primetime week in its three-year history, averaging 668,000 total viewers (ranking 30th among cable networks). It was led by the season finale of Tyler Perry soap “The Haves and the Haves Nots” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.61m), which set a series record for the network.

(English-language only)

Adults 18-49
1.  NFL Thursday Kickoff: Baltimore-Denver (NBC), 10.3/31
2.  Sunday Night Football: NY Giants-Dallas (NBC), 10.0/27
3.  NFL Thursday Kickoff pre-game (NBC), 7.1/22
4.  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 4.6/14
5.  College football: Notre Dame-Michigan (ESPN), 3.2/12
6.  The Simpsons-r (Fox), 2.9/8
7.  Under the Dome (CBS), 2.7/8
8.  Breaking Bad (AMC), 2.6/6
9.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 2.5/7
10.  America’s Got Talent-Tuesday (NBC), 2.4/7
11.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 2.3/8
11.  America’s Got Talent-Wednesday (NBC), 2.3/7
11.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 2.3/6
14.  MasterChef-9 p.m. (Fox), 2.2/6
15.  MasterChef-8 p.m. (Fox), 2.0/6
16.  The Game (BET), 1.9/6
16.  Modern Dads (A&E), 1.9/5
16.  Comedy Central Roast of James Franco (COM), 1.9/5
19.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 1.8/5
19.  Bob’s Burgers-r (Fox), 1.8/5

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  Sunday Night Football: NY Giants-Dallas (NBC), 25.40
2.  NFL Thursday Kickoff: Baltimore-Denver (NBC), 25.13
3.  NFL Thursday Kickoff pre-game (NBC), 18.03
4.  Under the Dome (CBS), 11.15
5.  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 10.46
6.  America’s Got Talent-Wednesday (NBC), 10.03
7.  60 Minutes (CBS), 9.34
8.  America’s Got Talent-Tuesday (NBC), 9.16
9.  NCIS-r (CBS), 9.11
10.  College football: Notre Dame-Michigan (ESPN), 8.65
11.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 7.27
12.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 7.24
13.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 7.17
14.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 6.75
15.  NCIS: Los Angeles-r (CBS), 6.63
16.  The Simpsons-r (Fox), 6.36
17.  Two and a Half Men-r (CBS), 6.19
18.  America’s Got Talent-Wednesday (NBC), 6.16
19.  Mike & Molly-r (CBS), 5.93
20.  Rizzoli & Isles (TNT), 5.88

(in millions)

Total Viewers
NBC    10.01
CBS       5.74
Fox       4.90
ABC      4.15
UNI      3.14
ESPN   2.71
DISN    2.59
USA      2.57
HIST    1.77
TNT     1.73

Adults 18-49
NBC     4.43    (3.5 rating/11 share)
Fox     2.25    (1.8/5)
CBS     1.55    (1.2/4)
UNI     1.51    (1.2/4)
ABC     1.31    (1.0/3)
ESPN   1.17
USA      0.94
TBS      0.87
A&E     0.78
ADSM   0.76

Adults 25-54
NBC   4.67    (3.9/10)
Fox    2.38    (2.0/5)
CBS    2.04    (1.7/5)
ABC    1.63    (1.4/4)
UNI    1.48    (1.2/3)
ESPN  1.20
USA    0.96
TBS     0.83
A&E    0.81
HIST   0.70

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