'Puppy Bowl,' 'Kitten Bowl' lap up some big cable TV ratings

'Puppy Bowl' averaged 10.4 million viewers on Sunday

Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl" and Hallmark Channel's "Kitten Bowl" pawed their way to big ratings on Sunday.

"Puppy Bowl XI" fetched 10.4 million viewers, earning it the No. 1 spot in cable ratings, excluding sports, on Super Bowl Sunday, according to Nielsen.

The network was second overall most watched in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic during its 3 to 5 p.m., trailing behind NBC, which played the Big Game. 

However, the popular canine competition saw slight declines in overall viewership from last year, which averaged 13.5 million viewers.

The event also unleashed many reactions on social media. It was the top social, non-Super Bowl event of the night, reaching more than 17 million fans. It generated 10 unique U.S. and worldwide trending topics on Twitter.

"Now, Puppy Bowl has become part of the pop culture fabric of the Super Bowl," Rick Holzman, general manager of Animal Planet, told the Times.

In its 11th year, the 12-hour marathon event starred 85 homeless dogs, between the ages of 12 weeks and 21 weeks, which came to Animal Planet through rescue groups and shelters.

All of the puppies -- the "linebarkers" and "wide retrievers" -- are available for adoption. The network reported that this year the event was responsible for about 425 pet adoptions. 

Katty Purry --  not to be confused with the Super Bowl halftime act Katy Perry -- was the "Puppy Bowl" halftime artist.

More purrs were present at Hallmark's three-hour feline festivities. "Kitten Bowl II" averaged 1.3 million viewers, up 28% from last year's inaugural telecast.

The event averaged about 50,000 tweets Sunday, reaching nearly nearly 36 million people, making it Hallmark Channel's biggest tweet day in network history. 

“We knew animal lovers across the country would catch on and respond to 'Kitten Bowl' — after all there is nothing more entertaining than watching kittens play," Bill Abbot, president of Crown Media Family Networks said in a statement. "But to have experienced this kind of growth, both on air and in social media, in our second year is remarkable."

The channel said it helped each of the 92 adoptable kitten footballers find homes.

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