Football gives NBC a weekly ratings victory

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Pro football is already making a difference for NBC, which handily won last week’s prime time ratings among both total viewers and the advertiser-friendly group of adults aged 18 to 49.

The “NBC Sunday Night Football” match-up between the Steelers and the Browns gathered 17.8 million total viewers, making it easily the most-watched program for the week ending Sept. 14, according to figures published Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.


Including perennials such as “America’s Got Talent” and “Deal or No Deal,” NBC landed seven of the top 10 programs among total viewers.

Overall, NBC averaged 8.4 million total viewers, trailed by CBS (7.4 million), ABC (6.3 million) and Fox (6.2 million).

NBC has been on a roll since the Beijing Olympics broke ratings records last month. The network has taken six straight weeks among total viewers, its longest winning streak in more than six years.

Fox placed No. 2 in the 18-49 category, with a pre-season premiere Tuesday of J.J. Abrams’ heavily promoted thriller “Fringe.” The series opener delivered a mediocre 9.1 million total viewers, although it won its time slot in viewers 18-49 with a 3.2 rating/9 share.

The arrival of fall means that football dominates the cable ratings, too. ESPN had the two most-watched programs on basic cable last week, with its “Monday Night Football” doubleheader of the Vikings-Packers game (12.5 million viewers) and the Broncos vs. the Raiders (9.7 million). Meanwhile, Lifetime looked fashionable Saturday with its made-for-TV movie “Coco Chanel” (5.2 million) starring Shirley MacLaine.

-- Scott Collins