8:57am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: Sunday Night Football Rises Against MLB Postseason Competition
Averaging a 7.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 19.6 million viewers, Sunday Night Football topped all telecasts in Fast National returns. The scores, which will see further improvement when final ratings arrive, are massive 28 percent improvement from last week's initial numbers. The three half-hour installments of Football Night in America averaged a 1.9, 3.2 and 5.8 adults rating, giving NBC an early nightly average of a 6.0 rating with adults 18-49 and 16 million viewers.
PHOTOS: Hollywood's Connections to the NFL
Sports coverage served Fox well, with NFL overrun surging at 7 p.m. (8.0 adults), thanks to the Patriots' nail-biting win over the Saints. A special broadcast of the ALCS championship series, also subject to adjustments, averaged a 2.4 rating with adults 18-49 -- up from the 1.3 Fast National rating for last year's comparable game. Fox averaged a 4.1 rating with adults 18-49 and 12.7 million viewers.
Without the benefit of NFL overrun this week, 60 Minutes (1.5 adults) dropped 61 percent from the previous week. The Amazing Race (1.8 adults), The Good Wife (1.2 adults) and The Mentalist (1.3 adults) all hit series lows in early returns, falling a respective six-, four- and two-tenths of a point. CBS took a 1.5 adults rating for the night and 9.1 million viewers.
ABC also saw lows in the face of twice the sports competition. America's Funniest Home Videos (1.1 adults) returned four-tenths of a point down from last year's opener for its lowest premiere to date. Once Upon a Time (2.3 adults) and Revenge (1.7 adults) were both at fall lows, dropping a respective three- and two-tenths of a point. Betrayal (0.9 adults) fell another two-tenths for a series low. ABC averaged a 1.5 rating with adults 18-49 and 5.4 million viewers.