On Sunday, NBC handily won in total viewers and the 18-49 sales demographic with Sunday Night Football, averaging 12.7 million viewers with a 4.9 demo rating from 7-11 p.m., according to preliminary numbers provided by Nielsen Media Research.
But Fox may have the most to celebrate with strong tune-in for its animation block despite the lack of an NFL-size lead-in.
The series premiere of Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show gave Fox it's best scripted series bow of the season, averaging a 4.9 rating with 9.4 million viewers at 8:30 p.m. The Cleveland Show also built on its Simpsons lead-in (8.2 million viewers, 4.2 demo rating). The Simpsons declined slightly (7%) year-to-year, while Cleveland bettered the time period average by 44% year-to-year.
At 9 p.m., Family Guy was up 16% in the demo with a 5.2 rating and 10.1 million viewers leading into American Dad which averaged 7.1 million viewers with a 3.6 demo rating for a gain of 13% year-to-year.
ABC saw some erosion for Sunday night dramas Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. At 9 p.m. Housewives averaged 13.2 million viewers and a 4.5 demo rating, a decline of 44% compared to last season's premiere. Brothers & Sisters pulled in 9.3 million total viewers and a 3 demo rating, down 35%. But both shows opened even with where they concluded last spring and notched second-place finishes in their respective hours behind football on NBC.
The longest-running primetime program on television saw an encouraging start to its 42nd season. CBS' 60 Minutes opened with a 10.9 household rating with approximately 16 million viewers, for a 24% increase over last season's opener. Even more impressive, the CBS News program averaged a 5.1 rating among news' target sales demographic of 25-54 year-olds, for a gain of 76% year-to-year, and a 4.1 rating in the 18-49 demo, up 86%.