NBC really punched the ball into the end zone last night. The network’s Sunday Night Football broadcast of the Denver Broncos-Pittsburgh Steelers game in the first weekend of the NFL‘s regular season garnered the best overnight rating — 18.0 — for any regular-season NFL game on any network in 14 years. (The record-holder is the December 15, 1997 game between Denver and the San Francisco 49ers, which earned a 19.3 rating.) Last night’s Broncos’ victory and 18.0/29 rating in metered-market households also scored NBC its best primetime regular season rating ever. The game, which featured Peyton Manning’s debut with the Broncos, beat the 17.7 rating of the September 9, 2010 telecast of the Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints. Last night’s game was also up from the first game last year on NBC between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets, which landed a 16.9/27. Fast-affilate ratings are not time-zone adjusted, so expect Sunday’s numbers to change later in the day. As it is, with an audience of 20.1 million, NBC won the night in viewers and the adults 18-49 demo.
The only other original heavy hitters on TV last night were CBS’ 60 Minutes, which had an interview with the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden and wrote the No Easy Day memoir, and Big Brother. The network’s primetime Sunday lineup was pushed back 34 minutes on the East Coast due to the U.S. Open women’s tennis final so numbers will need to be adjusted.As it stands right now, 60 Minutes got a 2.1/6 while Big Brother got a 2.1/5. The reality show was up 11% from last week, last week’s 60 Minutes was a repeat. CBS ran repeats of The Good Wife (0.7/2) and The Mentalist (0.6/2) later in the night. Otherwise it was all Once Upon A Time encores on ABC and a night of animated repeats on Fox after the network’s own NFL coverage.
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