Football dominated the ratings wars on Sunday, with Fox crushing the competition in primetime with its coverage of the NFC Championship game as well as strong sampling for the second-season premiere of “The Following.” CBS also scored big earlier in the day with the AFC Championship, which logged the game’s second best score in 27 years.
Reliable total-viewer estimates weren’t available early Monday, but the Denver Broncos’ 26-16 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon netted a 29.5 household rating/52 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, peaking with a 32.8/55 from 5:30-6 p.m. ET. or its final half-hour. This is 6% higher from last year’s New England-Baltimore contest for the AFC Championship in primetime, which ended up averaging 47.7 million viewers in the nationals.
It’s the second best overnight household rating for the AFC title game since NBC earned a 31.9 for the Denver-Cleveland overtime conference clincher in 1987. The only game to rate higher in those 27 years was the New York Jets-Pittsburgh primetime matchup in 2011 (31.3/46).
In primetime, the Seattle Seahawks 23-17 victory over the rival San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship averaged roughly a 31.0 household rating as Fox easily topped the other broadcast networks combined.
Among entertainment programming on Sunday, Fox followed its coverage of the NFC title game with the second-season premiere of “The Following,” which averaged a series-best 4.4 rating in adults 18-49 and about 11.2 million total viewers, according to special time zone-adjusted estimates from Nielsen. The Kevin Bacon drama bowed to a 3.2 demo rating about a year ago, and then closed its rookie season with a 2.7 in late April.
“Following” debuts in its regular Monday 9 p.m. timeslot a week from today.
At ABC, a repeat of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) was followed by special “The Bachelor Love Stories” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall) and original episodes of “Revenge” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall) and “Betrayal” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.4 million viewers overall). Opposite football, “Revenge” was down 19% (0.3) week to week while the finale of “Betrayal” was down 12% (0.1).
CBS went with “60 Minutes” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall), followed by special repeats of “NCIS: Los Angeles” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall), “The Mentalist” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall) and “The Good Wife” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 6.1 million viewers overall).
And NBC aired “Dateline” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall) and a repeat of the feature film “Bridesmaids” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall), with the latter picking up steam in the final hour — likely benefiting from the end of the football game.
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 12.8/32; ABC, CBS and NBC, 0.9/2.
In total viewers: Fox, 36.9 million; CBS, 5.7 million; ABC, 4.2 million; NBC, 3.5 million.