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September 29, 2008

NBC football and 'Housewives' top Sunday

Eva_longoria There was more disheartening news for broadcasters Sunday with another night of season premieres returning lower than last year.

Yet the evening's biggest scripted debuts -- ABC's "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers & Sisters" -- managed to contain their ratings erosion to single-digit declines, drops that broadcasters nowadays consider acceptable, if not a relief.

ABC also announced this morning that based on the weekend's preliminary ratings, the network is projected to win the broadcast premiere week.

NBC won Sunday night with "Sunday Night Football," Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (15.4 million viewers, 6.3 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and a 15 share, according to Nielsen), complete with 90-minutes of pregame warm-up.

Fox was second, with some NFL overtime in the 7 p.m. hour boosting its average. Fox aired premieres of its animated comedy block: "The Simpsons" (9.3 million, 4.4/12, down 6%), "King of the Hill" (7.0 million, 3.3/8, down 13%), "Family Guy" (9.2 million, 4.5/10, down 20%) and "American Dad" (6.9 million, 3.2/7). Up 3% from last year, "Dad" was the only premiere last night to post a gain from last season's debut.

ABC is a frequent Sunday night leader in-season, but the network was in third place last night due to high-scoring football on Fox and NBC and declines among its returning shows, particularly a two-part "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (7.2 million, 2.2/7 and 11.9 million, 3.7/9 -- down 23%).

At 9 p.m., “Housewives” (18.4 million, 7.0/16, down 7%) was the night's highest-rated and most-watched show and, along with last week's premiere of "Grey's," marks the biggest scripted-series number we've seen this fall. At 10 p.m., ABC aired the return of "Brothers & Sisters" (12.4 million, 4.7/12, down 6%). Still, that's the lowest-rated premieres yet for both ABC dramas.

After being strongly competitive all premiere week, often posting gravity-defying ratings gains for its debuts, CBS fell to fourth place Sunday. The network aired an on par "60 Minutes" (12.1 million, 2.1/6) followed by "The Amazing Race" (10.3 million, 3.1/8, down 28%), the latter dropping sharply compared to last year’s premiere that ran after a highly rated NFL game. At 9 p.m., CBS aired "Cold Case" (11.2 million, 2.7/6, down 16%) and then "The Unit" (9.7 million, 2.6/6, down 7%).

The CW aired repeats.


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