Sunday night was CBS' turn with a close AFC Championship game between longtime rivals the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. The network overran the competition with a 17.6 adults 18-49 rating, grabbing 43.1 million total viewers.
CBS touts it as the highest-rated show of the season--besting the big 15 rating "Idol" performances on Tuesday and Wednesday night of last week. For CBS, it was also good news versus recent previous AFC championship games.
The net's preliminary household numbers--a 28.1 rating/40 share--were up 14% from the 24.6/44 earned a year ago, when Pittsburgh and Denver faced off. It was 4% higher over 2005's 27.0/38, in which New England and Pittsburgh were paired.
It also helped that this year's game was decided in the final minute: the Colts won 38-34.
CBS ended the night easily, leading all networks with a 14.9 rating/32 share. ABC was second at 4.7/10; NBC third at 2.6/6; Fox fourth at 2.3/5, Univision came next at 1.3/3; and CW was sixth at 0.9/2.
ABC, usually the industry leader on the night, took a big hit with its two biggest-scripted shows showing some football injuries. "Desperate Housewives" dropped to a 6.6/13 in 18-49 viewers from its usual 8 to 9 ratings, and its lead-out show, "Brothers & Sisters," dipped to a 4.6/11 in 18-49 viewers--off from its 5-plus ratings.
NBC was next, unable to muster anything above a 2.8 rating for the night. Reality shows "Grease: You're the One That I Want" and "The Apprentice: Los Angeles" took in an identical 2.8/6 rating among 18-49 viewers. Then, "Crossing Jordan" at 10 p.m. rang up a 2.4/5.
Fox's best came from identical 2.6 rating marks each for reruns of "The Simpsons," "Family Guy" and "American Dad."