SBD/Issue 25/Sports Media

ESPN Earns 10.3 Overnight Rating For Bears-Cardinals “MNF”

ESPN’s “MNF” Ratings For
Bears-Cardinals Up 134%

ESPN’s “MNF” earned a 10.3 overnight Nielsen rating for Bears-Cardinals last night, up 134% from a 4.4 for the comparable Texans-Seahawks Sunday night game on ESPN last year. The 10.3 ties ESPN’s best “MNF” overnight of the season. The game drew a 10.2 on ESPN and a 27.0 on WLS-ABC in Chicago, and an 11.8 on ESPN and a 14.2 on KTVK-Ind in Phoenix (THE DAILY).

QUARTERLY REPORT: Through the first five weeks of the NFL season, ESPN’s “MNF” averaged 12.9 million viewers and 7.1 million adults 18-49, “making it the No. 1 network on Monday nights in the demo and putting the lie to the notion that the prime-time pigskin audience would plummet” by shifting from broadcast to cable. Compared to the 15.1 million viewers ABC averaged during its final “MNF” season over the comparable time period, the program is down 15%, “a trifle” when considering ESPN reaches 84% of U.S. TV homes. Media buyers said ESPN gets around $200,000 30-second spots on “MNF” (MEDIAWEEK, 10/16 issue). AD AGE’s Abbey Klaassen notes ESPN’s “MNF” averaged an 8.5 through Week Four, up from the 6.5 it got for “Sunday Night Football” last year, but down from the 10.7 national rating ABC averaged for “MNF.” MindShare co-President of Broadcast Jason Maltby: “You have to take a look at Sunday and Monday night in totality. We’re averaging an 8.5 rating on Monday and an 11.5 on Sunday for a cumulative rating of 20 points. Last year the combination averaged only about 16 points, so it’s a net positive.” ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing & Sales President Ed Erhardt noted ESPN’s “MNF” ratings are 12% behind NBC’s “SNF” ratings this year, while ESPN’s Sunday night ratings last year were 43% lower than ABC’s “MNF” ratings (AD AGE, 10/16 issue).

NBC’s Raiders-Broncos Could Be Lowest-
Rated NFL Game On Primetime Network TV

SUNDAY NIGHTS: The NFL said that Raiders-Broncos “SNF” this past weekend “could come in with a national rating between 7.2 and 7.6,” which would make it the “lowest-rated NFL game ever on prime time network TV.” The record low is a 7.7 for Buccaneers-Rams on October 18, 2004. Sunday’s game was up against Game Four of the Mets-Cardinals NLCS (David Barron,, 10/16). ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was the most-watched program on Sunday, averaging 20 million viewers and an 8.0/18 in adults 18-49 in the 9:00pm ET window. ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” at 8:00pm averaged 14.3 million viewers and a 5.5/13 in the demo (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 10/17). NBC is not airing national ads during the first 30 minutes of “Football Night in America,” meaning “one of the network’s lowest half-hours of the week” is not included in national ratings. Nielsen fast-affiliate data found the show has averaged a 2.1 from 7:00-7:30pm ET among adults 18-49 over the past three weeks. On Sunday, October 1, ABC posted a 5.6 in the demo for the night and NBC recorded a 4.9, but excluding the 7:00-7:30pm window for NBC, “it gave the network a ratings win, boosting its 18-49 demo to a 5.9.” ABC Entertainment Exec VP Jeff Bader said NBC excluding the first half-hour of the show from national ratings “just doesn’t seem like full disclosure” (MEDIAWEEK, 10/16 issue).

FLEX APPEAL: The NFL required CBS and Fox to designate after Week Four the four games they wanted to protect from NBC’s flexible schedule for Weeks 10-15. NFL Senior VP/Broadcasting Howard Katz said that “requiring the protected lists so early might have been overly conservative, but the league was guided by the possibility that another team would emerge from the cellar.” Katz: “The concern was that if you let CBS and Fox protect too late in the season, a surprise team couldn’t play its way onto the prime-time schedule because they would always be protected” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/17).
LOCAL AIR: WFRV-CBS in Green Bay “acquired the broadcast rights” to NFL Network’s coverage of Packers-Vikings on December 21. NFL Network is “seen in the Green Bay area only by satellite.” WFRV will produce a pre- and postgame show (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 10/14).

BEHIND-THE-SCENES: In Arizona, Scott Wong offers a behind-the-scenes look at last night’s “MNF” game from Univ. of Phoenix Stadium. (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/17).

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