Tebow Rules: Steelers-Broncos Is Highest-Rated Wildcard Game In 24 Years

How fortunate that NBC’s TCA presentation was last week and not this week, as the network chief’s opening line “We had a really bad fall” would have to be changed into “We had a really bad fall and beginning of 2012.” Last night’s two-hour preview of the first of NBC’s new midseason series, The Firm, drew a disappointing 1.4/3 in adults 18-49, down a whopping 46% from the two-hour preview of now-defunct The Cape on the very same night last year. This marks NBC’s lowest in-season drama debut ever. The Firm, a sequel to the John Grisham novel and 1993 movie, moves into its regular Thursday 10 PM slot this week.

Great news for ABC’s Once Upon A Time. Despite facing the conclusion of the big Broncos-Steelers playoff game on the East Coast, the freshman fairytale series (3.7/8) was up a big 28% from its last original December 11. It was the highest-rated entertainment program of the night by a mile. Fox’s more male-skewing The Simpsons (2.3/5), also airing against the final minutes of the game, didn’t fare as well. It was down down 23% from its last original December 4. The rest of Fox’s animated lineup also slid: The Cleveland Show (2.1/5) was down 9%, Family Guy (3.0/7) was down 3%, and American Dad (2.1/5) was down 16%. Meanwhile, Once Upon A Time‘s ratings gains carried over to the 9 PM hour, where Desperate Housewives (3.0/7) was up 11% from its last original. But the halo effect did not extend to freshman Pan Am (1.3/3), which was down 13% to a series low, possibly sealing its fate.

An overrun from the Steelers-Broncos game led CBS to a landslide ratings victory. Because the network’s regular lineup was pushed by 18 minutes, reliable ratings for the CBS series will not be available until tomorrow.