Fall is clearly upon us — just look at what’s dominating TV ratings over the weekend: football. NBC’s Sunday Night Football franchise (the Chicago Bears routed the Indianapolis Colts, 29-13) ruled both Sunday night and the entire weekend, pulling in an average of 16.2 million viewers over three hours, according to overnight ratings. As an antidote to football, CBS aired two hours of the U.S. Open, which averaged 4.8 million viewers. Not touchdown-sized ratings, but for tennis, not too shabby.
Elsewhere on Sunday night, Fox premiered Japanese gameshow import Hole in the Wall at 8 p.m. and grabbed a decent 7 million viewers for what’s undeniably a very silly premise: Contestants shift their bodies to fit through various sizes of cutouts in moving walls. The premiere was bested by CBS’s Big Brother (with 7.6 million viewers), however. On the other end of the spectrum sat CBS’s 60 Minutes, which, after 40 season on the air, still managed to draw 9.7 million viewers to its news magazine format.
The rest of the weekend — the network deadzones known as Friday and Saturday nights — was rather luckluster in terms of ratings. Friday was topped by the two-hour season premiere of Fox’s Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? with an average of 7.6 million viewers. The interesting tidbit about 5th Grader is that it built on its audience every half hour, with the last 30 minutes drawing 9.1 million viewers — quite a feat for a Friday night. The one-hour, star-studded special Stand Up to Cancer, which aired simultaneously on ABC, CBS, and NBC at 8 p.m. on Friday, pulled in between 3 million and 4 million viewers on each network and averaged 10.3 million viewers across them all at any one time. (Sounds impressive, but remember, that’s the average for three networks airing it at once.) Saturday night, meanwhile, was dominated by the season premieres of Cops and America’s Most Wanted (both grabbed 5.3 million viewers) on Fox in the 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. hours, while CBS’s 48 Hours Mystery topped 10 p.m. with 4.8 million viewers.