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The highest-rated wild card game in NFL history helped push NBC to a weekly primetime victory over CBS in viewership and the adults 18-49 demographic.
The Dallas Cowboys-Seattle Seahawks game — NBC’s second of the day Saturday and the only one in primetime — topped both charts with 26.8 million viewers and a 10 rating/28 share in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen Media Research. “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which helped CBS handily win Thursday, was right behind with 26.1 million viewers and an 8.4/21 in adults 18-49.
It marked the first time all season that CBS had been toppled from the weekly lead in viewership, and it was by a thin margin (11.5 million for NBC vs. 11.46 million for CBS).
Football was a big driver for the week’s primetime, with Fox winning Monday night with the Fiesta Bowl and Wednesday night with the Sugar Bowl in advance of the Bowl Championship Series finale that will be in next week’s data. ABC got an early boost in primetime Monday with 24 million viewers between 8-8:30 p.m. for the last half-hour of the Rose Bowl, though it didn’t help the network’s schedule the rest of the night.
The Fiesta Bowl (13.8 million, 4.9/13) on New Year’s Day gave Fox a victory in both measures against repeat programming. But with Fox stuck with a less-than-perfect matchup between Wake Forest and Louisville for the Orange Bowl, NBC pulled out a win with “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (13.4 million 4.1/10) and “Law & Order: SVU” (15.2 million, 5.2/14) that helped make a difference in the weekly ratings. ABC, on the other hand, saw more heartbreak with “Big Day,” which fell to 4.7 million viewers and a 1.7/5 in its second airing of the night.
ABC got mixed results from another new comedy, “The Knights of Prosperity” (7.2 million, 3.0/8), which built slightly on its lead-in in the demo, and genuinely red-alert ratings for another, “In Case of Emergency” (6.3 million, 2.7/7). Both were trounced by everything else in the hour: NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” (11.3 million, 3.5/9), a “Criminal Minds” repeat (12 million, 3.5/9) on CBS and LSU’s pasting of Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl (14.4 million, 5.2/14).
With no football, an NBC schedule that wasn’t a factor and a repeat of “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC, there wasn’t anything stopping the “CSI” juggernaut from carrying CBS to a win Thursday night. The network also got help from “Shark” (14.4 million, 3.7/10), which beat “ER” (10.9 million, 4.6/12) in viewership, as well as a repeat “CSI” (13 million, 3.4/9) at 8 p.m. that beat a new “Ugly Betty” (11.6 million, 3.7/10). But NBC won in the demo in the 8 p.m. hour with “My Name Is Earl” (10 million, 4.3/12) and “The Office” (8.8 million, 4.3/11).
Friday was all CBS, which won in viewership and in the demo and gave “Numbers” (12.3 million, 3.2/9) season-high viewership.
Fox won Sunday night with a 29.7 million boost from the New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles wild card game, which helped “The Simpsons” (11.6 million, 5.4/12). But the 9 and 10 p.m. hours belonged to ABC, with the return of “Desperate Housewives” (18.7 million, 7.3/16) and “Brothers & Sisters” (11.9 million, 4.5/11).
The weekly averages: NBC (11.5 million, 4.2/11), CBS (11.46 million, 3.1/8), Fox (10.7 million, 4.0/10), ABC (8 million, 2.9/7) and the CW (3 million, 1.2/3).
In cable ratings news, TV Land launched acquired series “M*A*S*H” in a weeklong marathon running Jan. 1-7. In primetime (8-11 p.m.), the marathon averaged 1.3 million total viewers, marking a 24% increase over a year ago.
On Sunday night, the premieres of VH1’s “Celebreality” series “The Surreal Life Fame Games” averaged 1.1 million viewers at 9 p.m., returning series “Hogan Knows Best” averaged 1.4 million at 10 p.m., and new show “Shooting Sizemore” garnered 720,000 viewers at 10:30 p.m.
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