Lots of ratings tidbits to get to, including ups and downs in the weekly numbers and a strong showing for “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” But we’ll start with the most recent and biggest thing: ESPN setting an all-time cable record with “Monday Night Football.”
The massively hyped Minnesota Vikings-Green Bay Packers game Monday night drew 21.84 million viewers, more people than have ever watched a single telecast on cable before. The previous cable record was 18.6 million viewers, also for a “Monday Night Football” game (Philadelphia-Dallas), in September 2008.
The game featured former Packer quarterback Brett Favre, now with the Vikings, playing his former team for the first time. The Vikings won 30-23 to remain undefeated on the season.
– The “Seinfeld” reunion story on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” pushed the show to its biggest audience in several years, scoring 1.6 million viewers on Sunday night.
That’s the biggest audience for the show since March 2004 (and further proof of the luxury premium channels like HBO have of not being driven primarily by ratings and ad revenue). A late-night replay of the show brought in an additional million viewers. The larger-than-usual audience for “Curb” also helped out first-year series “Bored to Death,” which grabbed its biggest audience so far (1.1 million).
– The weekly ratings for the second week of the season aren’t vastly different from those in the first week. “NCIS,” “Sunday Night Football,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “Grey’s Anatomy” all stayed in the top 10 (the top 20 rankings are here).
Among the new shows, “NCIS: Los Angeles” (17.4 million), “The Good Wife” (13.69 million) and “FlashForward” (10.73 million) were the top performers in total viewers, while “The Cleveland Show” (4.4 rating), “NCIS: LA” (4.1) and “Cougar Town” and “Modern Family” (both 3.8) did the best among the newbies in the 18-49 demographic.
Seven-day DVR ratings for the weeks before the official start of the season are also starting to trickle in, and as more than a third of TV households now also have digital recorders, the numbers for some shows are getting a pretty good-sized boost.
Several FOX shows are among that group. Over its first two weeks “Glee” has seen its adults 18-49 rating increase by 21 percent (4.0 vs. 3.3) compared to its live plus same-day ratings. The premieres of “Bones” (3.1 to 3.9) and “Fringe” (3.0 to 3.9) on Sept. 17 both rose by more than 25 percent.
The CW is also touting its DVR gains. The Sept. 15 episodes of “90210” (2.9 million vs. 2.3 million) and “Melrose Place” (2.3 million vs. 1.8 million) both jumped by better than 25 percent, while “The Vampire Diaries” pushed up from 3.8 million to 4.7 million viewers. The network also got a pretty good bump in its core audience of young women.
DVR numbers for the week of Sept. 21 should be available next week.
The open question is still how much the seven-day viewing numbers matter. They’re certainly a factor for networks in determining whether shows are gaining traction with an audience, but yet another set of numbers — the “C3,” which shows how many people actually watch commercials within three days of a live broadcast — is largely what determines ad rates.
Follow Zap2it on Twitter for the latest TV, movie and celebrity news.