Football dominated the ratings wars on Sunday, with Fox crushing the competition in primetime with its coverage of the NFC Championship game as well as strong sampling for the second-season premiere of "The Following." CBS also scored big earlier in the day with the AFC Championship, which logged the game's second best score in 27 years.
Reliable total-viewer estimates weren't available early Monday, but the Denver Broncos' 26-16 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon netted a 29.5 household rating/52 share in Nielsen's metered-market overnights, peaking with a 32.8/55 from 5:30-6 p.m. ET. or its final half-hour. This is 6% higher from last year's New England-Baltimore contest for the AFC Championship in primetime, which ended up averaging 47.7 million viewers in the nationals.
AFC title game since NBC earned a 31.9 for the Denver-Cleveland overtime conference clincher in 1987. The only game to rate higher in those 27 years was the New York Jets-Pittsburgh primetime matchup in 2011 (31.3/46).
In primetime, the Seattle Seahawks 23-17 victory over the rival San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship averaged roughly a 31.0 household rating as Fox easily topped the other broadcast networks combined.
Among entertainment programming on Sunday, Fox followed its coverage of the NFC title game with the second-season premiere of "The Following," which averaged a series-best 4.4 rating in adults 18-49 and about 11.2 million total viewers, according to special time zone-adjusted estimates from Nielsen. The Kevin Bacon drama bowed to a 3.2 demo rating about a year ago, and then closed its rookie season with a 2.7 in late April.
"Following" debuts in its regular Monday 9 p.m. timeslot a week from today.
At ABC, a repeat of "America's Funniest Home Videos" (0.8/2 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) was followed by special "The Bachelor Love Stories" (0.9/2 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall) and original episodes of "Revenge" (1.3/3 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall) and "Betrayal" (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.4 million viewers overall). Opposite football, "Revenge" was down 19% (0.3) week to week while the finale of "Betrayal" was down 12% (0.1).
CBS went with "60 Minutes" (1.3/3 in 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall), followed by special repeats of "NCIS: Los Angeles" (0.7/2 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall), "The Mentalist" (0.7/2 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall) and "The Good Wife" (1.0/3 in 18-49, 6.1 million viewers overall).
And NBC aired "Dateline" (0.8/2 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall) and a repeat of the feature film "Bridesmaids" (0.9/2 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall), with the latter picking up steam in the final hour -- likely benefiting from the end of the football game.
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 12.8/32; ABC, CBS and NBC, 0.9/2.
In total viewers: Fox, 36.9 million; CBS, 5.7 million; ABC, 4.2 million; NBC, 3.5 million.
Fox Attracts Big 'Following' After Football Sunday Night
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