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Giants-49ers' NFC game scores big ratings for Fox

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Maybe Fox should try Eli Manning on its next edition of "American Idol."

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Maybe Fox should try Eli Manning on its next edition of "American Idol."

Manning's New York Giants swept their way into the Super Bowl on Sunday in a game that was a ratings smash, good news for Fox that likely took the sting out of a lacklustre return by "Idol."

The Giants' victory over the San Francisco 49ers attracted an average of 57.6 million viewers, the second most-watched NFC title game since 1982 and third most ever, the Nielsen Co. said. During the game's peak from 10 to 10:30 p.m. ET, 69 million people were watching. Only 2010's Minnesota-New Orleans game and the 1982 Dallas-San Francisco game had larger NFC championship audiences.

On Sunday afternoon, an estimated 48.7 million people watched the New England Patriots earn their way into the Super Bowl by beating the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship.

Television's most popular show, "American Idol," returned in front of 21.9 million people on Wednesday and 18 million on Thursday, Nielsen said.

That's a sharp decline from 2011 on both nights. "Idol" was down 16 per cent from a year earlier on Wednesday and 21 per cent on Thursday. They are the lowest premiere viewership figures since the competition began as a summer series in 2002, Nielsen said.

It's the second year since Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joined "Idol" as judges, so some of the novelty has worn off. The show has also de-emphasized some of the off-key contestants in favour of the better ones, which takes away the curiosity factor for some viewers.

Fox notes that "American Idol" started off slowly last season but improved as the season went along.

Over at struggling NBC, there was an unlikely saviour — at least for one week. Betty White's 90th birthday special was seen by 13.9 million people last Monday, the network's most-watched entertainment show this season except for the Golden Globes. A special preview of "Off Their Rockers," a hidden camera show narrated by White, basked in the glow with 12.25 million viewers directly following the birthday special.

NBC was so impressed that they reran both shows on Saturday. There's no permanent spot on the schedule for "Off Their Rockers," at least not yet.

One downside for NBC, which seeks younger viewers, was that while the show ranked No. 8 for the week among all viewers, it was No. 24 among the youthful demographic of 18-to-49-year-olds.

In a busy news week leading up to the South Carolina primary, the "CBS Evening News" with Scott Pelley scored the broadcast's biggest viewership average in three years. It still finished third, however, with NBC's "Nightly News" averaging 10.2 million viewers (6.6 rating, 12 share), ABC's "World News" having 8.4 million (5.6, 10) and the CBS telecast having 7.4 million (4.9, 9).

Football, "Idol" and the premiere of "Alcatraz" (Fox's best drama premiere in three years) helped Fox average 21.3 million viewers in prime time last week (11.6 rating, 18 share). CBS had 9.3 million viewers (5.9, 9), ABC had 6.7 million (4.2, 7), NBC had 5.8 million (3.7, 6), the CW had 1.2 million (0.8, 1) and ION Television had 990,000 (0.7, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.5 million viewer average (1.7, 3). Telemundo had 1.3 million (0.7, 1), TeleFutura had 720,000 (0.3, 1), Estrella had 220,000 and Azteca 200,000 (both 0.1, 0).

A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 per cent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Jan. 16-22, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFC Championship: N.Y. Giants vs. San Francisco, Fox, 57.64 million; "NFC Championship Post-Game Show," Fox, 31.04 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 21.93 million; "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 18.02 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 15.84 million; "Person of Interest," CBS, 14.4 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 14.22 million; "Betty White's 90th Birthday," NBC, 13.86 million; "NCIS," CBS, 13.23 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 13.02 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com

 
 
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