FOOTBALL SCORES BEST RATINGS; SO DOES HOUSEWIVES

Sunday Night Football registered its biggest audience of the season as the Indianapolis-New England contest scored an average 14.9 rating and a 22 share Sunday night. Nevertheless, it was not enough to beat ABC's Desperate Housewives, which, thanks to a supermarket-shootout storyline, drew the best ratings of the night -- and probably the week -- with a 15.0/21, according to the overnights. Earlier in the evening an overrun of athe afternoon NFL contest gave CBS the lead at 7:00 p.m. with a 14.0/22 in the first half hour, followed by a 12.2/18 for the beginning of 60 Minutes in the second half hour.

THE END OF "GLORY DAYS" FOR BROADCAST NEWS?

Fox news anchor Brit Hume has expressed concern about the ability of the traditional news media to compete effectively against the Internet over the long haul. In an interview with Broadcasting and Cable, Hume remarked that "the glory days" of the nightly network newscasts are over. "The question is whether our glory days are past, too, all cable channels, because of the Internet." (In a related story, rival CNN is making its CNN Pipeline video service available for free today only so that Internet users can sample its online reports about the final day of the off-year elections.) Hume blamed FNC's current ratings decline on the fact that "the news this year has been less compelling." Nevertheless, he said, Fox News chief "Roger Ailes is pretty agitated" over the down trend. "Roger is an extremely competitive man. Roger doesn't just want to beat the competition, he wants to fling them down and dance on them. Roger is ferociously competitive. I like that attitude," Hume said.

WAL-MART SLASHES PRICES OF HDTV SETS

Surprising analysts, Wal-Mart is slashing prices of HDTV television sets well before the Christmas-season discount wars ordinarily begin. The company said on Friday that it has cut the price of its RCA 32-inch LCD set to just $847. The Polaroid 37-inch set, which had been priced at $1,297, was cut to $997. And the price of the Panasonic 42-inch set was cut $500 from $1,794 to $1,294.

NBC EXPANDING ONLINE OLYMPICS COVERAGE

NBC is planning to carry as many hours of Olympics coverage on its Internet site as it will on its broadcast and cable outlets in 2008, NBC Universal Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol has told Advertising Age magazine. "We're not prepared to make the hard announcement, but we'll be in a position to live-stream between 800 and 1,000 hours of coverage in addition to 800 hours on cable and 200 hours on the network," Ebersol said. He added that no decision has been made about whether to make the Internet coverage available on a subscription basis or to sell it to advertisers.

CBS SHAKES UP DIGITAL DIVISION

Impatient with the progress it is making in developing its online businesses, CBS announced Sunday that it has hired former Allen & Co. exec Quincy Smith to oversee its interactive strategy. He will replace MarketWatch founder Larry Kramer, who will remain with the company as a consultant. Smith reportedly has been charged not only with extending the company's current online operations but also with seeking out entrepreneurs and looking for potentially lucrative startups in which to invest. However, in an interview with today's (Monday) New York Times, CBS CEO Les Moonves said that the company has no intention of making costly acquisition. "We are not going to spend $1.6 billion on YouTube. We are looking for the next YouTube and Quincy knows all the players."

BURSTYN FINALLY COMMENTS ON EMMY NOD FOR 14-SECOND ROLE

Ellen Burstyn claims that she was utterly bewildered when she was informed early this year that she had been nominated for an Emmy for a cameo role that lasted 14 seconds. "When they told me I was nominated for that I went, 'What, are you kidding?'" Burstyn said in an interview with A.P. Radio. Nevertheless, she added, "I thought it was fabulous. ... My next ambition is to get nominated for seven seconds, and, ultimately, I want to be nominated for a picture in which I don't even appear."

Brian B.