8:29am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: Weather-Delayed NFL Opener Tops Last Year With 25.1 Million Viewers
The return of the NFL catapulted NBC to the top slot with the best Thursday ratings any network has seen since the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Final returns from Nielsen give the game between the Denver Broncos and the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens 25.1 million viewers, up 5 percent from last season's Wednesday opener (23.9 million viewers). Despite being something of a blowout for the triumphant Broncos, the game was also up among adults 18-49, scoring a 10.3 rating in the targeted demographic. That's up from last season's 9.7 rating.
With all the numbers in, the game only trails 2010 and 2011 as the third-most-watched and third-highest-rated NFL kickoff game in the franchise's history.
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Previously: Fast Affiliate ratings will see significant adjustments when time zones are factored in later Friday, but as it stands, the game was only a shade short of last season's Wednesday opener in metered-market results.
The game earned a 16.2 rating and 29 share between 9:15 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. ET, after the game was delayed on account of impending lightning in Colorado. Last season's Wednesday kickoff brought in a 16.5 rating and 26 share.
Fast Nationals for the targeted adults 18-49 demo, in turn, are up 15 percent from last season's opener. Early returns have the game averaging a 10.0 rating in the demo, up from the initial 8.7 rating from last year's game.
Among competitors, CBS averaged a 1.5 rating with adults 18-49 and 5.9 million viewers for the night. The network had a new episode of Big Brother (2.4 adults), up six-tenths of a point from last week.
On ABC, a special Wipeout brought a 1.1 rating with adults 18-49, and Rookie Blue (1.0 adults) improved by a tenth of a point. The network averaged a 1.1 rating with adults 18-49 and 3.8 million viewers.
Fox encores fetched the network an average 0.5 rating with adults 18-49 and 1.6 million viewers. CW repeats brought a 0.2 adults rating and 677,000 viewers.
Univision had a 1.4 rating with adults 18-49 for the night and 3.5 million viewers, while Telemundo averaged a 0.5 adults rating and 1.1 million viewers.