Once again, 3 of the 4 major networks, NBC, CBS and Fox, got a ratings boost from football on Sunday, and once again NBC easily topped the night with Sunday Night Football. SNF is wrapping its red-hot season in style, with the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams drawing a 12.6 overnight rating/19 share, the best overnight rating for an NFL season-ending game in 9 years (since Min-Bal’s 13.4/21 on ABC in 2002) and highest ever for SNF, up 11% from last year. With a big NFL overrun, Fox is expected to finish second in adults 18-49 despite airing all reruns for the rest of the night. (Its fast national averages are approximate because of live sports.) ABC, the only network that didn’t get ratings help from football, was No. 3 in 18-49 (2.7/7) and total viewers (9.4 million) with its lineup returning to first-run episodes. America’s Funniest Home Videos (2.1/6) was up 11% from its most recent original on Dec. 5, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (2.7/7) was up 13% from its last original on Dec. 12 to hit a season high. Desperate Housewives (3.8/9) was up 6% vs. Dec. 12, while Brothers & Sisters (2.4/6) was down 4%. CBS’ primetime lineup was pushed to 7:16 PM by a football overrun. Its fast nationals were as follows: 7 PM (NFL Overrun/60 Minutes): 2.7/7; 8 PM (60 Minutes/CSI:Miami): 2.1/5; 9 PM (CSI: Miami/Undercover Boss): 2.9/7 and 10 PM (Undercover Boss/CSI:Miami rerun): 2.1/6. At 8 PM, CSI: Miami appears to be on par with its most recent original airing in its regular 10 PM slot (2.3/6 on Dec. 12), while Undercover Boss is down from its last first-run episode (3.1/7, also on Dec. 12).
Meanwhile, Saturday’s 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, broadcast on NBC in primetime due to a weather delay, drew 4.5 million viewers to become the most-watched Winter Classic ever, up 22% vs. last year’s game and the most-watched NHL regular-season game in 36 years.