Nellie Andreeva

Football won the night for NBC with Sunday Night Football and helped CBS take the silver with an overrun, while ABC and Fox’s lineups were mostly down on the first Sunday of the season. Here is how the networks, none of which featured new additions to their Sunday schedules, fared:

Desperate Housewives (4.2/10, 12.8 million), which introduced several new cast members, including new housewife Vanessa Williams, was down 11% from last season’s premiere, a modest decline compared to last fall’s 37% tumble on premiere night. It was up 5% from its May finale. Brothers & Sisters (3.0/8) at 10 PM was flat. Both series posted their highest 18-49 numbers since early January (for Housewives, it was also the largest audience since then.) Reality veteran Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (2.5/6), which opened the night for ABC, was down 19% from last season’s premiere.

Fox’s The Cleveland Show, which shined in its debut on the same night last year, was the network’s weakest link last night, sandwiched between veterans The Simpsons and Family Guy. In its second season premiere, the Family Guy spin-off (3.1/8) was down 37% from its debut last fall. It’s lead-in, The Simpsons (3.7/10) was down 14%, while an hourlong Family Guy (4.5/11) at 9 PM was down 15% but still ranked as the top-rated entertainment program of the night, beating ABC’s Housewives.

Because its football overrun ended at 7:47 PM, CBS’ fast nationals are jumbled but it is certain that Undercover Boss was down from its blockbuster start last season. The Amazing Race appears close to its last fall premiere as the 8:30-10 PM period, which included 17 minutes of 60 Minutes and 73 minutes of Race posted a 3.6/9 in 18-49. (Last fall’s Race debut averaged a 3.4/8). The conclusion of Race‘s premiere and the season opener of Undercover Boss logged a 3.7/10 from 10-11 PM. For comparison, the first regular Undercover Boss following its launch after the Super Bowl drew a 5.2/13. But in its first cycle, which aired in midseason, Boss never had to face football.

In the fast nationals, the Sunday Night Football game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins posted a 6.5/16 in adults 18-49. While unreliable as it is not time-adjusted, the number is a good indication where NBC will finish the night – on top.

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.