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NFL Opener Surges From Last Year, Lifting NBC to Dominant Night TVbytheNumbers

Thursday night was a big night for football and NBC in the broadcast ratings, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the season kickoff pitting the Denver Broncos against the Baltimore Ravens delivered a preliminary 10.4 average rating in the demo, surging 20% from the number for last year's opener -- which aired on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

NBC's pre-game show, "Football Night in America," delivered a 6.5 average in viewers 18-49, 15% better than the preliminary number a year ago.

The closest any other program on broadcast could come was a 2.4 average in 18-49 for CBS's "Big Brother," up 33% from last week. ABC's two-hour "Wipeout" settled for a 1.1 (down 8% from its previous original), while "Rookie Blue" managed a 1.0 (up 11% from last week).

Fox aired all repeats, and CBS surrounded "Big Brother" with repeats.

NBC's dominance is reflected in the numbers for prime time overall, with the Peacock Network way out in front of the pack with a 9.2 average in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (1.5 average), Univision (1.4), ABC (1.1) and Fox (0.5). The picture in total viewers is similar, with NBC leading the way with 23.2 million, well ahead of CBS (5.9 million), ABC (3.8 million), Univision (3.5 million) and Fox (1.6 million).

Due to the nature of live programming, the preliminary numbers for NBC are subject to more than the usual adjustments.