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New pro football season lifts NBC in TV ratings

The return of the National Football League, with two gripping prime-time games, sent NBC vaulting into the week's lead in Nielsen's television ratings.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The return of the National Football League, with two gripping prime-time games, sent NBC vaulting into the week's lead in Nielsen's television ratings.

With the other networks' fall premieres still a couple of weeks away, it was no contest.

Sunday's thrilling comeback win by the New York Jets over the Dallas Cowboys was seen by 25.8 million people, the Nielsen ratings company said. It was the most-watched Sunday night game since NBC began that franchise in 2006 and was the most-watched Sunday or Monday night game in 14 years.

But it wasn't even the most-watched game of the week. Thursday's season kickoff between the New Orleans Saints and the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers had more than 27 million viewers, Nielsen said.

The six most popular prime-time programs last week were football games, football pregame shows or football highlights shows.

CBS News' update of its Sept. 11 documentary, shot by two French-born American filmmakers who caught a view of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center, had 12.3 million viewers. That was second only to one night of "America's Got Talent" as the most popular non-football show. Another 9/11-related show, the "Dateline NBC" special with Tom Brokaw, also finished among Nielsen's top 20.

Last week's finale of "Pequenos Gigantes" ("Little Giants") on Univision was seen by 6.2 million people, the most ever for a Spanish-language reality show. The three-hour show was ranked No. 21 among all programs on TV last week.

NBC averaged 11 million viewers in prime-time (6.7 rating, 11 share). CBS was second with a 6.3 million viewer average (4.1, 7), ABC had 4.8 million (3.1, 5), Fox had 4.3 million (2.6, 4), ION Television had 1.2 million (0.8, 1) and the CW had 870,000 (0.6, 1).

A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a prime-time average of 3.9 million viewers (2.1, 3), Telemundo had 870,000 (0.5, 1), TeleFutura had 490,000 (0.3, 0), Estrella had 190,000 (0.1, 0) and Azteca had 180,000 (also 0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.6 million viewers (5.6, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.5 million (5.1, 10), and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.9 million viewers (3.9, 8).

For the week of Sept. 5-11, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: New Orleans at Green Bay, NBC, 27.17 million; NFL Football: Dallas at N.Y. Jets, NBC, 25.77 million; "NFL Thursday Pre-Kick," NBC, 23.24 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 20.28 million; "Football Night in America, Part Three," NBC, 14.92 million; "NFL Kickoff 2011," NBC, 14.65 million; "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday), NBC, 12.36 million; "9/11: 10 Years Later," CBS, 12.34 million; "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 11.85 million. "NCIS," CBS, 9.51 million.


ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is a unit of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.