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Sunday Ratings: ‘Cleveland’ Rocks, ‘Housewives’ Takes a Hit

Week one of the new season ends with more promising results for a newcomer.

Fox’s Animation Domination lived up to its name Sunday, thanks to the addition of "The Cleveland Show," while ABC’s Sunday sudsers struggled as "Desperate Housewives" took a big dip with its sixth season opener.

Here’s a first look at the fast national Nielsen numbers:

–Might as well be the first to use this cliche, but on its first outing, Fox’s "Cleveland" rocked. The latest from the Seth MacFarlane factory earned a 4.9/12 in adults 18-49,  and 9.4 million viewers, making it the top comedy debut of the season in the key demo.

"Cleveland" was particularly mighty with the under-35 crowd: It notched a massive 8.4/22 with men 18-34– bigger than football on NBC.

Fox also scored with "Family Guy" (5.2/12), which benefited from its new lead-in to climb 16 percent over last fall’s premiere. "The Simpsons" (4.2/12) was off 7 percent but last year benefited from a big NFL lead-in (and, oh, the show is celebrating its 75th year on the air, so erosion? Gonna happen.)

"American Dad" (3.6/9) lost some of its lead-in but was still up 13 percent vs. 2008.

The strong tune-in for "Cleveland" was no surprise: Pre-season surveys showed its target audience knew it was premiering and planned to watch (a k a "high intent to view"). Question now is whether the crowds return.

–Critics were kind to the season premiere of ABC’s "Housewives," but viewers weren’t (or maybe just chose to use their DVRs). "DH" (4.5/11, 13.23 million) dropped a big 37 percent (almost as much as the 40 percent decline for CBS’s "CSI" Thursday.) 

Still, ABC notes "DH" was the most-watched entertainment show of the night. And compared to its May sweeps average, the series was flat (it’s the same argument CBS made last week after "CSI" took a tumble).

At 10 p.m., "Brothers and Sisters" (3.0/8, 9.33 million) suffered a similar 35 percent fall-off.  From 7-9, "Extreme Makeover" (2.6/7, 8.9 million) was down much less.

–CBS numbers are hard to evaluate because of NFL overruns. But the two-hour "Amazing Race" premiere seemed in line with its 2008-09 performance. 

–NBC had football and will likely win the night (though Fox will keep it close).