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TV Ratings: Giants and Cowboys Give Strongest Sunday Night Football Showing in Weeks

NBC's broadcast of the NFC East rivalry boosted its showing among adults 18-49 to a 8.5 rating, while NFL overrun boosted CBS and ABC's "Once Upon a Time" hits series lows.

Giants Cowboys Dec 11 - H 2011
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The New York Giants' nail-biting win over the Dallas Cowboys last night gave NBC's Sunday Night Football its strongest showing in weeks, pushing the network to an easy win for the night -- though CBS, boosted by nearly a half-hour of NFL overrun on the eastern half of the country, came in a strong second place.

Fast affiliate ratings show the Giants and Cowboys game averaged a 8.5 among adults 18-49 during its broadcast and a total audience of 22.7 million. With a soft lead-in from NBC's Football Night in America, the network averaged a 6.9 rating in the key demo over the four-hour block and took in 18.6 million viewers.

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CBS started its night with about 42 minutes of football overage, giving skewed showings from 60 Minutes (a 4.5 rating among 18-49-ers), the season finale of The Amazing Race (3.4), a new episode of The Good Wife (2.7) and CSI: Miami (2.2). The network averaged a 3.2 rating for the night, with an audience of 12.2 million.

Fox's animation block suffered without the big draw NFL overrun it enjoyed last week. A softer football holdover audience at 7:00 p.m. lead into a repeat of The Cleveland Show (1.8 among adults 18-49), The Simpsons (3.0), another Cleveland repeat (2.3), Family Guy (3.1) and American Dad (2.5). Fox averaged a 2.7 for the night (with 5.99 million viewers), giving it a handsome lead over last place ABC.

The big story on ABC is the continued decline of freshman fantasy drama Once Upon a Time. The winter finale brought more series lows, with a 2.9 rating among adults 18-49 (down three tenths of a point from last week's low) and an average audience of 8.9 million. In the show's defense, there was little in the way of destination viewing on ABC last night, with Once bookended by a repeat of America's Funniest Home Videos (1.6 in the demo) and an airing of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1.3). Together it gave ABC a 1.8 rating in the demo for the night, with 5.92 million viewers.

Sunday, Dec. 11, Preliminary Overnight Ratings:

7 p.m.
CBS: Football overage/60 Minutes (17 million viewers, 4.5 rating among adults 18-49)
Fox: Football overage (9.4 million, 3.5)
NBC: Football Night in America (9.8 million, 3.4)
ABC: America's Funniest Home Videos (R) (7.4 million, 1.6)

7:30 p.m.
Fox: The Cleveland Show (R) (4.1 million, 1.8)

8 p.m.
NBC: Football Night in America (16.9 million, 6.2)
CBS: The Amazing Race (13.7 million, 3.4)
Fox: The Simpsons (6.4 million, 3.0)
ABC: Once Upon a Time (8.9 million, 2.9)

8:30 p.m.
NBC: Sunday Night Football - Giants at Cowboys (24.0 million, 8.7)
Fox: The Cleveland Show (R) (4.98 million, 2.3)

9 p.m.
NBC: Sunday Night Football - Giants at Cowboys (23.2 million, 8.7)
Fox: Family Guy (6.05 million, 3.1)
CBS: The Good Wife (11.1 million, 2.7)
ABC: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (3.7 million, 1.2)

9:30 p.m.
Fox: American Dad (4.99 million, 2.5)

10 p.m.
NBC: Sunday Night Football - Giants at Cowboys (21 million, 8.2)
CBS: CSI: Miami (11 million, 2.2)
ABC: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (3.7 million, 1.4)