SBD/Issue 85/Sports Media

Lack Of Uniform NFL Divisional Schedule Could Hurt Ratings

Primetime Start For Ravens-Colts Saturday
Gives CBS Both Late Games This Weekend
The NFL's failure to "adopt a uniform divisional round schedule, in terms of starting times, will cost it this time around when it comes to TV ratings points," according to Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The "perception hanging out there" is that the NFL "won't go to uniform divisional round (4:40 p.m./8:15 p.m. starts on Saturday and Sunday) because CBS does not want" to preempt "60 Minutes." The ratings that will be lost by putting Cowboys-Vikings at 1:00pm ET Sunday "will come at the expense" of Fox. As soon as the NFL "designated CBS' Ravens-Colts game for its Saturday night prime-time window," the Jets-Chargers game on Sunday was scheduled for a 4:40pm ET kickoff, as a "game played on the West Coast cannot start" at 1:00pm ET. So not only are Fox officials "looking at their red hot Cowboys-Vikings telecast being scheduled at 1 p.m., when maximum viewers are not available, but they also have to deal with CBS having the two 'late' windows on Saturday and Sunday" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/15). Fox Sports President Ed Goren: "As the day goes on, there are more and more viewers. So ratings go up. That late Sunday slot is where all the networks want to be" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 1/15).

BIG CHEESE: CBS earned a 16.9 final Nielsen rating and 27.4 million viewers last Sunday for its coverage of the Ravens-Patriots AFC Wild Card, up 13% and 15%, respectively, from a 15.0 rating and 23.9 million viewers for the net's Ravens-Dolphins Wild Card last year. The NFL's four Wild Card games last weekend averaged 29.9 million viewers, making it the most-viewed opening weekend of the NFL Playoffs since '94. The 29.9 million viewers also represented a 16% increase over 25.8 million viewers for last year's Wild Card round (THE DAILY). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley reports last Sunday's Cardinals-Packers NFC Wild Card game earned a "monstrous" 49.1 local rating on WITI-Fox in Milwaukee, the "highest rating for any wild-card game on any Milwaukee station" since a 51.2 local rating for Packers-49ers in January '02. Cardinals-Packers also had a "whopping" 70 share (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/15).

Writer Calls Simms (r) The "Best
Football Analyst In The TV Business"
BOOTH REVIEW: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes now that CBS' Phil Simms is the "best football analyst in the TV business," he can "stay his course and remain a valued analyst, the best of the lot, even." However, he also can "take it one notch higher, the way fellows in his TV position have never done because they become cautious, even frightened." After a big hit by Ravens CB Frank Walker on Patriots WR Sam Aiken during last Sunday's Ravens-Patriots game, Simms "should have taken a poke at Walker for pounding his chest and demonstrating his great self-regard after his free shot at a defenseless receiver left him laid out." Simms is "too good to have said nothing about it" (N.Y. POST, 1/15).

HITTING ITS GROWTH SPURT: CABLEFAX DAILY reports Nielsen Universe estimates for January '09 and December '09 indicate that NFL Network "saw the biggest percentage gain in subs among metered networks," increasing 30.6% to nearly 55 million HHs in December. That is "not a surprise given its deal with Comcast that got it off a sports tier," but another factor was the "launch of NFL RedZone, which affiliates can only get if they take NFL Net." NFL RedZone "helped bring new distributors on board, like Massillon," and the net is "hoping to entice a few more operators this year." NFL Network VP/Affiliate Distribution John Malkin: "All of the operators I'm talking to are engaged, they want to talk more about RedZone, [they] all are very well aware of the successful season we've had. ... I expect a good year" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 1/15).

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