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NBC, Fox Dominate Sunday

September 24, 2007 1:11 PM

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” continues to climb, but premieres on the CBS and The CW fumbled in the overnight ratings.

NBC’s presentation of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears earned a 7.0 among adults 18 to 49, winning the night. It was the best Sunday game so far this month for NBC and was up 28 percent compared with last year’s comparable Broncos-Patriots game.

Fox came in second with some NFL overrun, followed by high-quality numbers for its animated comedy slate. “The Simpsons” was down 11 percent from last year’s premiere, but still managed its best rating in eight months (4.7). “King of the Hill” had its best rating in nearly four years (3.7). The one-hour “Star Wars”-themed episode of “Family Guy” scored its best rating since the show returned to Fox in 2005 (5.5). “Family Guy” was the highest rated non-sports programming of the night.

CBS was a distant third with the season premiere of “60 Minutes” (2.3), the finale of “Power of 10” (a series-low 1.7) and the premieres of “Cold Case” (3.0) and “Shark” (a series-low 2.7).

Compared to last year’s CBS lineup of “The Amazing Race,” “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace,” that’s down significantly. The network pointed out that NBC’s football ratings were ginormous and the shows were debuting out of season instead of in-season.

Another factor was the premiere of Ken Burns’ documentary “The War” on PBS. Although 18 to 49 ratings are not yet available, PBS said the two-and-a-half-hour premiere was seen by an impressive 7.3 million viewers, which likely impacted CBS’ viewership.

ABC was fourth with repeats and season-setup clip shows from “Desperate Housewives” (3.1) and “Brothers & Sisters” (1.7).

The CW was fifth. The premieres of newsmagazine show “CW Now” (0.2) and user-generated home video clip show “Online Nation” (0.3) crashed spectacularly. Repeats followed.

Also: The premiere of Fox’s Friday night docu-soap reality series “Nashville” was largely overlooked last week due to Emmy mayhem. Sometimes a network launches a show with low expectations and the program takes them by surprise. In this case, Fox launched “Nashville” and got roughly what they expected, though not as much as they’d hoped.

The Sept. 21st premiere earned a 1.0 rating. Last Friday, that dropped to a 0.8. The show isn’t doing any favors for partner “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” which had its worst performance to date on Friday (1.3).

Before holding any death vigils, sources say Fox plans to keep the series on the air for the time being. With fellow musical reality show “The Next Great American Band” hitting Friday nights starting Oct. 19 and some Major League Baseball games also coming soon, the network sees little point in yanking the show prematurely from its perch.

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