For the first time ever, a weekly sports telecast appears to have a lock on first place in the weekly Nielsen ratings. Indeed, the audience for NBC's Sunday Night Football appears to be growing each week -- with Sunday night's Week 7 contest between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers averaging 25.7 million viewers, up 71 percent from the same week a year ago, making it the biggest audience ever for Sunday Night Football. (There was an enormous gap between NBC's football coverage and its second-highest-rated show, Law & Order SVU , which was 35th on the Nielsen list.) Even with ABC's old Monday Night Football added to the equation, Sunday's telecast, involving two medium-market teams, was the highest-rated NFL contest since 1986. Yet despite such a huge turnout, NBC was unable to average no better than third place for the week -- and just barely at that. As has been the case all season, CBS led in total adults by a wide margin with an average 7.1 rating and a 12 share. ABC, thanks largely to continued strong ratings for its Dancing With The Stars , came in second with a 5.6/9. NBC followed with a 5.0/8, barely edging out Fox with a 4.5/8. Among the nightly newscasts, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams , with 7.87 million viewers, widened its lead over second-place ABC World News with Diane Sawyer , with 6.90 million viewers. The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric remained well behind the two with 5.29 million viewers.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research 1. Sunday Night Football, NBC, 15.4/25; 2. Dancing with the Stars (Monday), ABC, 12.3/19; 3. NCIS , CBS, 11.7/19; 4. Sunday Night Football Pre-Kickoff, NBC, 11.4/18; 5. 60 Minutes , CBS, 9.8/16; 5. 2. Dancing with the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 9.8/15; 7. NCIS Los Angeles , CBS, 9.7/15; 8. Csi Crime Scene Investigation , CBS, 9/14; 8. The Mentalist, CBS, 9/16; 10. Criminal Minds , CBS, 8.8/14.