Cowboys, Bears beat Sunday's premieres

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NEW YORK -- Boosted by a Dallas Cowboys-Chicago Bears matchup on "Sunday Night Football," NBC won Sunday night's primetime against season premieres on CBS and Fox. But Fox scored touchdowns of its own with strong performances by "Family Guy," "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill," while CBS faltered with "Cold Case" and "Shark" premieres.

Final ratings data for the Cowboys-Bears game won't be available until Tuesday morning, but Nielsen Media Research estimated Monday that the game averaged a 13.7 household rating/23 share in the metered markets. It outpaced the rest of the network offerings and was up in the metered markets 28% over last year's New England Patriots-Denver Broncos game to become the third-best such rating since "Sunday Night Football" began in 2006.

Yet even with the NFL casting a long shadow, Fox did well. A one-hour "Star Wars"-themed "Family Guy" averaged 10.7 million viewers and a 5.5/13 in adults 18-49 to become a strong second place to "SNF" between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Not only was it up compared with last year's season premiere (up 15% in adults 18-49 and 26% in adults 18-34), but it also was the highest ratings since "Family Guy" returned to Fox in May 2005.

Primetime began with Fox getting a 15.3 million NFL runover between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., which seemed to dampen the first half-hour of the season premiere of "60 Minutes" (11.4 million, 2.3/7) that included Scott Pelley's interview with the Iranian president. Fox lost viewers at 7:30 p.m. with "The OT" (9.1 million, 4.0/12), but it was still ahead of a repeat ABC "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" ( 5.5 million, 1.7/5) as well as the premieres of the CW's "CW Now" (1 million, 0.2/1) and "Online Nation" (994,000, 0.3/1). "60 Minutes" was about even with its season premiere in 2006.

"The Simpsons" season premiere (9.4 million, 4.7/12), coupled with the season debut of "King of the Hill" (7.7 million, 3.7/9) prevailed against CBS' "Power of 10" (7.5 million, 1.7/4) and the second hour of a repeat "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (7.8 million, 2.5/6). "The Simpsons" was up 18% in adults 18-49 and 19% in adults 18-34 as well as 9% among viewers to get its highest demo ratings since Jan. 7, 2007.

"King of the Hill" was no slouch either, giving Fox its best ratings for the show since Nov. 16, 2003, and up 3% in adults 18-49, up 13% in adults 18-34 and up 5% compared with its time period premiere Jan. 7, 2007. "Power of 10" fell to its lowest adults 18-49 ratings ever.

"Family Guy" was the undisputed nonfootball demo winner of the 9 p.m. hour against the premiere of CBS' "Cold Case" (12.3 million, 3.0/7) and ABC's "Desperate Housewives" clip show (9 million, 3.1/7). "Cold Case" fell 27% from its Sept. 24, 2006, premiere in adults 18-49 and was down significantly from last year's 16.2 million viewers on that date when it premiered in the season.

"SNF" was still on top at 10 p.m. against the time-period premiere of CBS' "Shark" (11.5 million, 2.7/7) and ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" clip show (5.2 million, 1.7/4). "Shark," which replaced "Without a Trace" in the 10 p.m. Sunday slot, got eaten alive in the ratings. Its adults 18-49 ratings fell 34% compared with its Thursday premiere last year on Sept. 21, 2006. But it was still far below last year's "Without a Trace" premiere of 17.6 million viewers and a 4.8/12.

Sunday averages: NBC (14.2 million, 5.8/15); CBS (10.7 million, 2.4/6); Fox (10.5 million, 4.9/13); ABC (6.9 million, 2.3/6); and the CW (1.3 million, 0.5/1).
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