With a "Sunday Night Football" showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints, NBC had no trouble breezing past the other major broadcast networks.
According to early numbers from Nielsen, which are subject to change because the results are not adjusted for time zones, the game drew 19.3 million viewers and a rating of 7.0 in the key 18-49 age demographic in prime time.
In the advertiser-desired demo, "Sunday Night Football" improved 23% from the early numbers from last week's game.
Overall, NBC had a preliminary rating of 5.7 in 18-49, in which a ratings point equals about 1.3 million viewers, easily outpacing its nearest broadcast competitor, CBS, which brought in a 3.0.
The game itself wasn't much of a nail-biter either, as Drew Brees' Saints smashed Tony Romo's Cowboys 49-17.
We won't know until later how it stacked up against AMC's "The Walking Dead," which has been beating the NBC football games in the demographic.
In Nielsen's metered markets, which are time-zone-adjusted, "Sunday Night Football" scored an average 13.0 rating from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Competing with the strong NFL game, every other program fell in the ratings week-to-week. Fox's animated comedies, "The Simpsons" (1.9), "Bob's Burgers" (1.5), "Family Guy" (2.0) and "American Dad" (1.6), all fell double digits. On average, Fox brought in 3.59 million viewers and an 18-49 rating of 1.6, giving it a third-place finish in the demo.
ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" grew its total audience, though its 18-49 rating fell 7% to a 1.3 from last week. The fairytale series "Once Upon a Time" slipped 9% to a 2.1, though it was still the night's top scripted series in the demo.
"Revenge" and the freshman series "Betrayal" both slid, by 18% and 20%, respectively, to tie their series lows. "Betrayal" brought in 3.25 million viewers and a rating of 0.8.
CBS' statistics for were boosted by an NFL game that ran into prime time in the Eastern and Central time zones, so the figures for its shows are not reliable.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun