TV Ratings: 'Sunday Night Football' Returns Up, 'The Orville' Opens Solid

Dallas Cowboys carries the ball against the New York Giants - Getty-H 2017
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

After a major delay due to Hurricane Irma, Nielsen finally issued ratings midday Tuesday for Sunday's primetime offerings. 

Sunday's ratings come after several quiet weeks on the broadcast front as the network prepare for the official arrival of the fall TV season. Helping boost numbers were the official time slot premiere of Sunday Night Football, a highly publicized 60 Minutes interview and an early preview of Seth MacFarlane's sci-fi hourlong The Orville.

(It should be noted that many broadcast shows were preempted in certain markets in primetime due to Hurricane Irma coverage in the Southeast. There were also preemptions in Seattle and Milwaukee.)

NBC led the night with the premiere of Sunday Night Football. The Dallas Cowboys victory over the New York Giants averaged a 9.1 rating in the adults 18-49 demo and 24.37 million viewers. In the demo, that's a 18 percent rise from the 2016 Sunday Night Football opener (7.5 adults). That's also up in the demo, but a tiny drop in total viewers, from Thursday's official Sunday Night Football premiere, which drew a 7.7 rating and 21.79 million.

Broadcasters are surely breathing a sigh of relief at those SNF numbers, considering NFL viewership dipped an average of eight percent per game last season. Despite the drop, Sunday Night Football was still easily the top-rated primetime broadcast show of the 2016-17 season with a 6.7 average rating.

On Fox, Seth MacFarlane's hourlong sci-fi series The Orville got a nice post-NFL football boost, opening to a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49. That's three-tenths above the 2.4 rating freshman comedy Son of Zorn grabbed last season when it received a similar preseason, post-NFL preview. That also makes The Orville the top-rated drama launch (with no football lead-in) since NBC's This Is Us (2.8 adults) last September.

Meanwhile, 60 Minutes saw a small bump thanks to Charlie Rose's interview with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, his first since stepping down in August. Sunday's highly anticipated sit-down drew a 1.1 rating and 8.41 million viewers, up four-tenths from the most recent new episode. Elsewhere, Big Brother (1.9 adults) was solid for CBS.

ABC also had special programming with the 2017 Miss America pageant. This year's ceremony, which took a political turn when Miss Texas slammed President Donald Trump, averaged a 1.1 rating, steady from last year's telecast. Earlier in the evening, a 20/20 special drew a 0.9 rating.

Sept. 14, 8:25 a.m.: Updated with final ratings.