The Sunday ratings report is always pretty boring. Without fail, NBC's primetime football game wins the night (and often the week), though that hasn't done much good to help the network. (In the past, it was fairly easy to chart a network's rise and fall based on whether it had an NFL package or not. Now, ABC has been sans football for several years but continues to truck along, while NBC gets basically no promotional help from the weekly game.) And, indeed, NBC ran away with the night, the game between the Colts and Steelers cresting at 18.11 million viewers and a 7.4 in the 18-49-year-old demographic in the 9 p.m. hour. (That's still not going to be quite enough to win the week, not with the grinning specter of Ashton Kutcher out there.) It's here we should point out that none of these numbers are final until tomorrow, since football overruns mucked around with CBS' totals especially (possibly inflating 60 Minutes' total by a few million viewers).
The big winner outside of football, though, was likely ABC's Pan Am, which actually opened slightly up over its Desperate Housewives lead-in. There's necessarily a ceiling for shows airing opposite the game, and while Pan Am didn't hit it, it still performed nicely, with 10.87 million viewers and a 3.1 in the demo, continuing the streak of new shows that aren't on NBC debuting solidly. It was a good ending to a disappointing night for ABC, as the debuts for both Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (which grew to just 8.77 million viewers in its second hour) and Desperate Housewives (which pulled 9.775 million viewers and a 3.1) were down from last year's totals. The hope had been that announcing this was the final season of Housewives would goose interest in the flagging show, but that doesn't seem to have transpired.
CBS, again, had large overruns from football, which throws the 12.56 million viewers for 60 Minutes into question, but the rest of the night played out consistently, though it skewed older. The Amazing Race pulled 10.52 million viewers and a 3.0 in the demo, while The Good Wife launched in its new time slot with 10.5 million viewers and a 2.2. That's roughly how the show did in its old Tuesday slot, which means CBS was unable to generate interest among younger viewers. (The show was briefly discussed as a possible cancellation last spring, since its demo numbers are so low. As a comparison point, Parks & Recreation, which has less than half the total viewers of Good Wife, drew a 2.1 on Thursday. However, nothing else on CBS generates the critical acclaim or awards attention of Good Wife, so it seems likely to stay put so long as it stays steady.) The night closed out with reliable warhorse CSI: Miami drawing 9.98 million viewers and a 2.2.
Finally, there's Fox, which continues to draw mediocre overall viewership numbers but very good demo numbers with its animated comedies. The Simpsons actually led the night in viewership for the network, grabbing 7.91 million viewers and a 3.8 in the demo, while Family Guy won the night in the demo, pulling a 4.1 to 7.625 million viewers. The show sandwiched between those two, The Cleveland Show, continued to be just strong enough to avoid cancellation, with 6.02 million viewers and a 3.1 in the demo. (Where do the people who skip out on Cleveland Show go? It's impossible to tell, of course, but both the football game and Extreme Makeover saw nice boosts at the half-hour on TV By The Numbers' half-hour breakdowns.) Finally, American Dad followed up Family Guy by promptly shedding a good portion of its audience, grabbing 5.72 million viewers and a 3.0 in the demo to make it the least-watched show of the night, continuing this week's suggestion that when it comes to quality, Americans are agin' it.