SBD/Issue 76/Sports Media

Fox Earns 16.3 Overnight Nielsen For Cowboys' NFC East Clincher

Fox' NFL national telecast, which featured Eagles-Cowboys in the late window for 79% of the country, earned a 16.3 overnight Nielsen rating, capping what should be the net's most-viewed NFL regular-season ever. The net averaged a 12.7 overnight rating for all Sunday NFL game telecasts, up 5.8% from a year ago. Week 17's national window was also up 14.0% from a 14.3 overnight for last year's Week 17 national telecast, which featured the same matchup. Meanwhile, CBS' NFL national telecast, which featured Steelers-Dolphins (70%) in the early window from 1:00-4:15pm ET, earned a 12.3 overnight, up from the 12.1 overnight for the net's national telecast last year, which aired in the early window featuring Patriots-Bills (68%). NBC last night earned an 11.4 overnight Nielsen rating for the Bengals-Jets "SNF" matchup, up 7.5% from a 10.6 overnight for Broncos-Chargers in Week 17 last year. The game earned an 18.4 in N.Y. and a 37.6 rating in Cincinnati. "SNF" gave NBC the win in primetime, and was the top Sunday night program for the 15th time in 16 "SNF" telecasts (THE DAILY).

'09 GAME
'08 GAME
% +/-
Eagles-Cowboys (79%)
Cowboys-Eagles (88%)
Steelers-Dolphins (70%)
Patriots-Bills (68%)

COACH SPEAK: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes with "potential NFL coaching changes a hot topic in the regular season's final week," having former coaches on pregame shows can "create awkward situations." Other networks besides CBS "reported Sunday on current CBS studio analyst Bill Cowher's possibilities," and Fox' Jay Glazer and ESPN's Chris Mortensen said that Cowher "has talked to the Buffalo Bills." Glazer added that Cowher "wants to coach this coming year and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have interest." But Hiestand notes CBS "didn't have much." After being asked by CBS studio host James Brown about the "awful lot of reports about you," Cowher said he is "not going to talk about any jobs during the regular season" (USA TODAY, 1/4). SI’s Richard Deitsch wrote, “It's embarrassing for The NFL Today. Jay Glazer should not have more info on Bill Cowher's future than Cowher's own show.” THE DAILY's John Ourand: “Who tunes in to hear this? Why is he on a pregame show? Cowher on NFL Today: I'm not going to talk about any jobs during the regular season. … You have to go to ESPN's pregame show for news of Cowher coaching."

TALENT REVIEW: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote CBS' Phil Simms is "not only famously prepared, he deftly makes his points when they matter without the slightest bit of the boy-am-I smart, hotdog about it." Also, while some play-by-play announcers "seem to always be scrambling to keep up with the action on the field," CBS' Jim Nantz during yesterday's Ravens-Raiders game "was not only on top of it, he was often ahead of everyone else." Zurawik wrote Nantz "always seems to have something worthwhile to say," and there is "not an ounce of gasbag in him" (, 1/3). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes the broadcasting of Buccaneers' games "seemed less and less inspiring" as the season continued. It is "hard to be too critical" of Fox' Charles Davis, who called yesterday's Falcons-Bucs game, as he is "solid, isn't prone to hyperbole or stupid comments and, obviously, can dissect the game." But Davis is "better at reacting to what just happened as opposed to hinting what is about to happen" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/4).

Fewer Than 9% Of NFL Regular Season
Games Were Blacked Out This Season
DREADED GLITCH AWARD: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley reports viewers in the Milwaukee market "did not see the pregame chatter and opening kickoff" of yesterday's Packers-Cardinals game. The screen "remained dark for a few minutes, but the problem was not network-wide," as Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell said it "must be an isolated incident." Bell added that the technical support staff at Fox "told him there was no problem with the telecast on the network level" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/4).

NOT SO DARK: In DC, Mark Maske reported fewer than 9% of NFL regular season games this season were "blacked out in the local market of the home team." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had said that "as many as 20[%] of the games could be blacked out on local TV ... when the season began with some teams struggling to sell tickets in the uncertain economy." The 22 blackouts this season were the "most for the NFL in a season since there were 30 local TV blackouts in 2004." But Maske noted the number of blackouts per season "traditionally was much higher before being reduced significantly in the previous four seasons" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/1).

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