TV Ratings: 'Sunday Night Football' Makes Record Return on NBC

Fast affiliate numbers give the network its best-ever overnight showing for a regular-season primetime game, with its score among adults 18-49 on track to eclipse last year's opener.
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"Sunday Night Football" staged an especially strong return for NBC. Fast affiliate numbers give the Pittsburgh Steelers-Denver Broncos game the network's best-ever overnight rating (18.0) for a primetime regular season game.

Metered Markets also give the game a 9.8 rating among adults 18-49, 3 percent higher than the fast national for last year's opener and on track to eclipse its final 10.7 rating. Following an hour and a half of Football Night in America (4.6 adults rating), the network currently averages a dominant 7.6 rating among adults 18-49 and 20.1 million viewers for the night.

The game featured the return of four-time NFL MVP -- and one-time Saturday Night Live host -- Peyton Manning, playing his first game as Broncos quarterback after sitting out the 2011 season due to neck surgery.

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Fox had some NFL overrun of its own, inflating the network's average -- currently a 3.9 rating among adults 18-49 and 9.6 million viewers -- for its block of animation reruns.

Fast affiliate ratings for CBS' primetime lineup also are slightly skewed thanks to slightly more than a half-hour's worth of overrun for tennis' U.S. Open. As it stands, Big Brother, the night's only original broadcast, was up 11 percent with a 2.1 rating among adults 18-49. The network averaged a 1.5 rating in the demo and 7.2 million viewers.

ABC, prepping for the fall season, aired four back-to-back encores of Once Upon a Time, averaging a 0.7 rating with adults 18-49 and 2.8 million viewers for the night.

Univision scored a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49.

Just for grins, watch Manning's classic United Way spoof on SNL in 2007 below.