SBD/31/Sports Media

DON'T LOOK FOR SUPER BOWL XXIX ON THE ALL-TIME RATINGS LIST

     ABC Sports Dir of Media Relations Mark Mandel responded to
the 41.2 overnight rating for Super Bowl XXIX:  "It's still the
Super Bowl.  People will watch no matter what, no matter who's
playing."  USA TODAY's Mike Hiestand notes that the rating might
decrease when the rest of the country is figured in.  The
overnight rating is based on the top 32 media markets (54% of the
U.S.), which include San Francisco and San Diego.  Still, Grey
Advertising Senior VP Jon Mandel insists the rating won't matter
to advertisers:  "The issue is simple.  Where else can you buy a
40 rating?"  Mandel adds that even with a different set-up, such
as matching the NFL's top two teams, he's not sure "how much more
(TV ad) money they could extract from the market" (USA TODAY,
1/31).
     THE BREAKDOWN:  The overnights, by segment -- all times are
p.m. EST (USA TODAY, 1/31):
TIME PERIOD
RATING
TIME PERIOD
RATING
4-5 (pregame)
10.6
7:30-8
43.2
5-5:30 (pregame)
14.4
Halftime
39.5
5:30-5:50 (pregame)
20.1
8:30-9
41
5:50-6:21 (pregame)
32.6
9-9:30
40.6
6:30-7
42
9:30-10
40.1
7-7:30
42.8
Postgame
25.7
WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR: One media buyer said the ratings "held up well enough" that NBC will probably ask for between $1.2-1.3M per 30-second next year, and probably get between $1.1M and $1.2M (Harry Berkowitz, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 1/31). BLOWOUT FACTOR: There are several calls this morning for a change in the NFL's playoff system, which would allow for the league's top two teams to meet in the Super Bowl. USA TODAY's Larry Weisman writes, "Our national religious holiday, Super Bowl Sunday, is rotten at the core. ... And the best way to bring the focus back to football is to find a way of getting the two best teams on the field." But Mike Hiestand writes that a No. 1 vs. No. 2 Super Bowl could "render the AFC, ultimately, irrelevant," as well as "hurt earlier playoff attractions" (USA TODAY, 1/31). In New York, Thomas George expects "serious discussion" on changing the playoff system. "The NFL does not like criticism and ridicule from the outside. Now more of that than ever is beginning to swell from the inside. It starts with [NFL Commissioner] Tagliabue" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31). An editorial in today's WASHINGTON POST calls for a Balanced Football Amendment, requiring the winning team to score three-fifths of the points (WASHINGTON POST, 1/31).
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