The most-watched Sunday or Monday prime-time NFL game since 1997 helped NBC win the week among the young adult viewers the network targets for the first time in months.
The Philadelphia Eagles' 30-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday was the most-watched prime-time program between Dec. 6 and Sunday, averaging 25.73 million viewers, according to live-plus-same day viewing figures released today by The Nielsen Co.
The viewership was the highest for a Sunday or Monday prime-time regular-season game since the Dec. 15, 1997, ABC ``Monday Night Football'' game between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, which averaged 27 million viewers.
The game was the most-watched ``Sunday Night Football'' game in five seasons on NBC, erasing the previous record of 25.68 million for the Oct. 24 Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings game.
Although NBC finished second for the week behind CBS among total viewers, it finished first among viewers ages 18-49, the group ABC and Fox Broadcasting also target and advertisers covet.
The victory was NBC's first among that group during the official television season since the week of Feb. 22-28, the final week of its coverage of the Winter Olympics.
Outside of its football coverage, NBC's highest finish among the group was ``The Office,'' which was 11th and 43rd overall.
NBC also led among viewers ages 18-34.
CBS averaged 10.52 million viewers for its prime-time programming to finish first for the 11th time in the 12 weeks of the prime-time television season. Its most-watched program was ``60 Minutes,'' which finished third overall, behind ``Sunday Night Football'' and its 10-minute pregame show, averaging 17.59 million viewers.
As it has for each week of the season, CBS had the most-watched scripted series, half-hour comedy and new series.
``Criminal Minds'' was the week's most-watched scripted series, finishing fourth overall, averaging 14.23 million viewers.
``Two and a Half Men'' was the most-watched half-hour comedy for the 11th time in 12 weeks, finishing fifth overall, averaging 13.41 million viewers.
The comedy ``Mike & Molly'' was the most-watched new series, finishing 19th overall, averaging 11.04 million viewers.
CBS was also first among viewers ages 25-54 and 55 and older.
NBC was second for the second consecutive week, after finishing third seven times and fourth twice, averaging 8.82 million viewers.
NBC got a boost from the opening week of the second season of ``The Sing Off,'' whose two episodes averaged 8.1 million viewers -- 20 percent more than the 6.8 million for its opening week a year ago.
The season premiere of ``The Sing Off'' on Dec. 6 was NBC's most-watched non-football program of the week, finishing 31st overall, averaging 8.57 million viewers,
ABC finished third for the second consecutive week and third time this season, averaging 7.04 million viewers.
ABC's two most-watched programs were Barbara Walters specials. ``A Barbara Walters Special: Oprah, the Next Chapter'' was seventh for the week, averaging 13.27 million viewers. ``Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010,'' which followed, was ninth for the week, averaging 12.22 million viewers, finishing ninth for the week.
ABC's most-watched series program was ``Desperate Housewives,'' which was 15th overall, averaging 11.60 million viewers.
Fox Broadcasting finished fourth for the 10th time this season, averaging 5.65 million viewers. Its most-watched show was ``Glee,'' which finished 18th overall, averaging 11.07 million viewers. Fox led among viewers ages 12-17.
The CW had its customary fifth-place finish, averaging 2.17 million viewers. Its most-watched program was ``The Vampire Diaries,'' which averaged 3.16 million viewers to finish 83rd among programs on the five major broadcast networks.
ESPN's ``Monday Night Football'' game between New England Patriots and New York Jets Dec. 6 was the week's most-watched cable program. It averaged 16.53 million viewers, which would have ranked fourth among the week's programs on the five major broadcast networks. It was the fourth most-watched program on cable television this year.
ESPN was the week's most-watched cable network in prime time for the seventh consecutive week and 12th time in 14 weeks, averaging 3.8 million viewers.
As usual, Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network, averaging 3.68 million viewers for its prime-time programming. Telemundo was second (890,000), followed by TeleFutura (870,000) and Estrella TV and Azteca America, which both averaged 200,000.
The week's most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was the Tuesday episode of a Univision telenovela. ``Soy tu Duena'' averaged 6.27 million viewers, which would have put it 53rd among the programs on the five major English-language networks.
NBC finished first among the network nightly newscasts for the 65th consecutive week and 112th time in the past 113 weeks, averaging 9.42 million viewers, followed by ABC (8.41 million) and CBS (6 million).
The week's 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC's ``Sunday Night Football'' and its 10-minute pregame show; CBS' ``60 Minutes''; ESPN's ``Monday Night Football''; CBS' ``Criminal Minds,'' ``Two and a Half Men'' and ``The Mentalist''; ABC's ``A Barbara Walters Special: Oprah, the Next Chapter''; CBS' ``CSI: Crime Scene Investigation''; and ABC's ``Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010.''