NFL Pre-emptions Inflate Nationals Ratings; ESPN Scores With College Football

There was a lot of football around on Thursday. For one, Tom Brady saw his four-game Deflategate suspension overturned by a federal judge – though the NFL says it will appeal. Then there were those preseason games all over the TV schedule. The Seattle Seahawks ended their preseason run with a 31-21 win over the Oakland Raiders, and CBS won the night with a 1.9/7 rating and 7.22 million viewers.

The net had the night’s top-rated show in Big Brother (2.4/8) and matched as most-watched the 8.20 million who tuned in for a The Big Bang Theory (1.9/8) repeat. But with NFL preemptions or delays in 37% of the country for CBS, those numbers are likely inflated. In fact, there were a slew of preemptions on ABC, NBC, Fox and The CW on a night that saw finales for ABC’s Mistresses and Rookie Blue.

As it stands, Mistresses (1.4/5) was up 75% among adults 18-49 from last week and Rookie Blue (1.2/4) scored a 140% rise.

Undoubtedly giving broadcast a hit when the final numbers come out, there was college ball on ESPN last night too — a doubleheader opener in fact. That proved a touchdown for the cable sports giant, with South Carolina’s 17-13 win over North Carolina up 40% over last year’s August 28 opener. The 2.1 overnight rating put the Carolinas matchup in the top-five ESPN college football openers ever. (No. 1 is the August 30, 2012 game between Vanderbilt and South Carolina, which got a 2.6 rating.) The second game last night was TCU’s 23-17 victory over Minnesota. With a 1.9 rating, that game was up 27% over the second game of last year’s doubleheader opener.

The NFL season formally kicks off September 10 with Brady and the New England Patriots taking the field against Pittsburgh Steelers – a game NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will not be attending.

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