SBD/Issue 13/Sports Media

MNF’s Halftime Prank Panned, But Stems Ratings Falloff

"MNF" Halftime Feature Wasn't The
Only Thing Sacked Monday Night

The overnight Nielsen rating for ABC’s debut Monday of the practical-joke feature “You’ve Been Sacked” during halftime of “MNF” from 10:45-11:00pm ET was 15% lower than the rating for the previous 15 minutes, compared to a 19% decline between the comparable periods for the September 20 Vikings-Eagles game and a 20% drop during the September 9 Colts-Patriots game, according to Rudy Martzke of USA TODAY. But there was only a 9% dip at halftime of the September 13 Packers-Panthers game, “when a segment looked back at Brett Favre's play in a Monday night game last year after his dad died.” In “Sacked,” teammates tricked Rams WR Torry Holt into “believing he had been selected as the league’s best-dressed player” by an imaginary magazine, which led to a photo shoot that “involved him dressing as a scantily clad ballerina.” IMG/TWI Chair Barry Frank: “I thought Torry Holt was made to look ridiculous. But I know ABC has been struggling with halftime for many years." Martzke writes, “If this was the best of these segments, I prefer to sack the rest.” But Initiative Media Exec VP/National Broadcast Media Tim Spengler, whose “MNF” clients include Coors and Dockers, said, “They're adding entertainment ... that doesn't feel inappropriate. It fits prime time.” Martzke notes “MNF” Exec Producer Mike Pearl and Producer Fred Gaudelli “contacted producers in Hollywood and received more than 50 proposals for halftime themes” before the season. Pearl said three of the eight "Sacked" segments have been shot and more could be ordered (USA TODAY, 9/29). Gaudelli: “The standard fare at halftime doesn’t cut it. The stuff with NFL Films is high quality, but it has a predictable ratings drop-off at halftime. There’s a sameness to it. So we’re trying to do things that make people want to stay up 10 minutes longer.” But in N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that “Sacked” is “beneath the reputation” of “MNF,” “though it would be perfect for Spike” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/29).

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