NBC's 'SNF' opener blows away competition


NEW YORK -- NBC rode the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys opening match on "Sunday Night Football" all the way to a ratings touchdown.

The "SNF" season premiere averaged 16 million viewers and a 6.7 rating/17 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Monday by Nielsen Media Research. That was far ahead of the rest of the competition, including an original "Big Brother" and the Univision-sponsored Democratic presidential candidate debate. The Cowboys won 45-35 in a game that peaked at 8:30 p.m. ET with 17.6 million viewers and a 7.1/18 in adults 18-49.

Football boosted the fortunes of another network, with Fox averaging 13.5 million viewers and a 5.9/17 between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET for runover. It dropped to 8.5 million viewers and a 3.3/10 for "The OT," which competed against NBC's "Football Night in America" (7.7 million, 3.0/9). CBS' coverage of the U.S. Open from Flushing, Queens, averaged 6.8 million viewers and a 2.5/7 between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The only other original program was CBS' "Big Brother," which averaged 8.3 million viewers and a 2.8/7. Meanwhile, Univision's debate between the Democratic presidential candidates averaged 2.1 million viewers and a 0.9/3 in adults 18-49. It came in fifth place among the networks but was in line with what other debates on cable have done this year.

Sunday averages: NBC (14 million, 5.8/15); CBS (8.2 million, 2.1/5); Fox (7.6 million, 3.5/9); ABC (7.3 million, 2.5/6); and the CW (1.1 million, 0.4/1).