NBC football overpowers Sun. night

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NEW YORK -- Reggie Bush and the New Orlean Saints defeat of the Dallas Cowboys led NBC to a primetime win Sunday night without the tough front line of "Desperate Housewives" on the field.

NBC averaged 15.5 million viewers and a 6.2 rating/15 share in the adults 18-49 demographic for the game, according to preliminary estimates released Monday by Nielsen Media Research. The Saints-Cowboys game reached its peak at 9:30 p.m. EST, when 19.7 million viewers tuned in.

Football overshadowed everything. CBS's regional games ended at different times between 7:08 p.m. EST (Buffalo Bills-New York Jets) and 7:28 p.m. EST (San Diego Chargers-Denver Broncos) but got good numbers in the first half-hour of primetime. NBC won 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. in both viewership and adults 18-49 although the 9 p.m. hour was admittedly without a key player in the field, "Desperate Housewives."

ABC came in second in adults 18-49 and third in the demo for the night, with a two-hour "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (14.3 million, 5.3/12) airing between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. It was preceded by "America's Funniest Home Videos" (10 million, 2.8/8), which like "Extreme Makeover" was about average in the demo. Without "Desperate Housewives," "Brothers & Sisters" (10.5 million, 4.0/10) hit its lowest original rating of the season.

CBS' schedule was, like several Sundays this season, thrown off by football. Its averages are preliminary and will likely be revised when final data comes in Monday. "60 Minutes" averaged 15.2 million viewers and a 4.0/10 in the demo while the season finale of "Amazing Race" averaged 12.9 million viewers and a 4.0/9. "Amazing Race" was up 43% in viewers and 18% in the demo compared to last spring's finale, which like last fall's were two hours long.

"Cold Case" between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. averaged 14 million viewers and a 3.7/9 and "Without a Trace" averaged 13.1 million and a 3.7/10 between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., the only numbers immediately available. It was a lighter night in the ratings for both shows.

Fox came in fourth for the night in adults 18-49, although "The Simpsons" (8.3 million, 4.1/10) was second in the hour in adults 18-49. "American Dad" (7.1 million, 3.6/8) was Fox's only other original show for the night. The CW's "Reba" averaged 3.9 million viewers and a 1.4/4 at 7:30 p.m. while "7th Heaven" delivered 4.4 million viewers and a 1.5/4.

Nightly averages: ABC (12.3 million, 4.3/11); CBS (14.5 million, 4.0/10); NBC (15.5 million, 6.2/15); Fox (6.6 million, 3.1/9); and The CW (3.3 million, 1.2/3).
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