NFL provides ratings kick for peacock

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NEW YORK -- NBC won a summer week in the ratings race thanks to a double shot of opening-week NFL action, while "The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" dropped to record-low ratings despite the fact that Couric spent the week on a high-profile trip to Iraq and Syria.

Official weekly averages from Nielsen Media Research won't be released until this morning pending final numbers for Fox's 23 minutes of NFL overrun Sunday, though they are not expected to change NBC's top standing in viewership and the adults 18-49 demographic.

It was the second time NBC won in the demo in three weeks, following a No. 1 finish from the season finale of "America's Got Talent." NBC's victory in total viewers was the network's first since Jan. 1-7. It marks the first time a network other than CBS had won in seven weeks. NBC can thank the NFL for the boost, with Thursday's season opener and the "Sunday Night Football" season premiere finishing as the top two programs of the week in viewership and adults 18-49.

NBC was nowhere to be found on Monday, far behind the night's leader CBS that won with its lineup of comedies and dramas led by "Two and a Half Men" (9.1 million, 2.9 rating/7 share in adults 18-49) and "CSI: Miami" (8.8 million, 2.5/7). The few originals, ABC's "Fat March" (4.9 million, 1.9/5) and "Dateline: NBC" (4.3 million, 1.6/4) dwelled near the bottom.

It was all about CBS on Tuesday as well, with "Big Brother" (8 million, 3.3/9) delivering against NBC's "The Biggest Loser" (6.4 million, 2.4/6) and ABC's "I-Caught" (5 million, 1.7/4). CBS' "Power of 10" (8.1 million, 2.3/7) defeated a repeat of "Singing Bee" (5.1 million, 1.8/6) for the 8 p.m. win while CBS' repeat of "NCIS" (7 million, 1.8/5) and NBC's repeat of "Law & Order: SVU" (6.1 million, 2.1/6) shared the 10 p.m. victory against ABC's "Primetime: Crime" (6 million, 2.1/6).

Wednesday belonged to NBC with "Last Comic Standing" (6.2 million, 2.4/7) and "Dateline NBC" (7.4 million, 2.4/7) combining to win against mostly repeats, while another episode of "Power of 10" (7.7 million, 2.0/6) won at 8 p.m.

The opening-night NFL match between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts powered NBC to a big win Thursday, with the game averaging 17.8 million viewers and a 7.4/22 in adults 18-49. Even the pregame entertainment averaged 8.8 million viewers and a 3.3/12 in the demo to beat CBS' "Big Brother" (8 million, 3.0/9). Fox came in third with "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" (8.3 million, 2.5/8) and "Don't Forget the Lyrics" (8 million, 2.9/8).

NBC won Friday with repeats, while ABC's "Chevy Rock and Roll 400" (6.8 million, 2.5/8) won Saturday in viewership and the adults 18-49 demo.

Sunday was a repeat of Thursday, with big numbers -- 18.2 million viewers and a 7.6/20 in the demo -- for the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game. Fox's lineup, including an 8:30 p.m. repeat of "The Simpsons" (6.4 million, 3.1/8) and a 9:30 p.m. repeat of "Family Guy" (6.2 million, 3.1/7) conspired to edge ahead of CBS and "Big Brother" (8.3 million, 2.9/8). CBS' schedule had been delayed by the U.S. Open finals, while Fox was bound to get a boost Sunday with the half-hour overrun of NFL football. Fox's "The OT" (10.1 million, 4.4/13), which was counted, ran right over NBC's "Football Night in America" (5.7 million, 2.3/7).

Couric's one-year anniversary at the anchor desk of the "CBS Evening News" was marked by a generally well-received trip to the war zone in Iraq and Syria, including interviews with Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush. But in line with what other networks have found with Iraq-related coverage, it didn't help Couric's ratings. The "CBS Evening News" averaged 5.4 million viewers last week, thanks to general malaise in Iraq War coverage. It was the lowest ratings on record, along with Memorial Day week, since the current ratings system took effect in 1987. Earlier this week, CBS News executives bristled at the idea that Couric was in Iraq to increase her ratings, pointing out that it has proven that Iraq coverage doesn't add to the ratings.

Meanwhile, ABC's "World News With Charles Gibson" pulled off a narrow victory in viewership against the "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams" with 7.8 million viewers for ABC and 7.78 million viewers for NBC, a gap of only 24,000. The networks tied in the adults 25-54 demo with a 1.9 rating; CBS came in with a 1.4 rating.

Among the primetime results, NBC (8.2 million, 3.0/9) led the networks, followed by CBS (6.7 million, 2.0/7), ABC (5.4 million, 1.9/5) and the CW (1.9 million, 0.7/2). Fox's initial average was 5.5 million viewers and a 2.0/6.
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