SBD/Issue 86/Sports Media

NFL Continues To See Ratings Jumps Despite Lopsided Playoff Games

Fox' telecast yesterday of the Vikings-Cowboys NFC Divisional playoff game earned the weekend's best NFL overnight Nielsen ratings, and it is up 14% from the comparable Eagles-Giants last year. Vikings-Cowboys also marks the best early-window Divisional game since Eagles-Cowboys earned a 25.8 overnight in '96, and the first time in a decade that an early Sunday Divisional game has outrated the late game. The game earned a 48.4 in Minneapolis-St. Paul and a 40.4 in Dallas-Ft. Worth. CBS also scored a 23.1 overnight for yesterday's Jets-Chargers in the late-window AFC Divisional game, marking the best Sunday AFC divisional game since a 24.3 for Patriots-Colts in '05. Jets-Chargers peaked at a 27.3 rating in the 7:30-8:00pm ET window. CBS Saturday earned an 18.7 overnight Nielsen rating for the Colts-Ravens AFC Divisional game in primetime, up 18.4% from the 15.8 overnight for Cardinals-Panthers primetime game on Fox last year, and up 10.0% from CBS' Ravens-Titans in the '09 Saturday early window. Meanwhile, Fox earned a 17.9 overnight for Saturday's Saints-Cardinals NFC Divisional game, up 13.3% from Cardinals-Panthers in '09, and up 5.3% over Ravens-Titans (THE DAILY ).

'10 GAME
'09 GAME
% +/-

ON TOP OF THEIR GAME: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes CBS' broadcast crew of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms "turned in a first-rate performance" during Jets-Chargers, as they made the "thriller even more compelling." Simms was "as aggressive as the Jets' defense, first-guessing with flair throughout the game," and his opinions were "pointed and original" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/18). Also in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes under the header, "Simms Shows Why He's Best." Mushnick lists four reasons why Simms is "football's best analyst" (N.Y. POST, 1/18). 

OFF THE MARK: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote it is "startling just how wide the gap is between Fox's top NFL broadcasting team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman and the No. 2 crew of Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa." The No. 2 team, which called Saints-Cardinals, is "average at best," due to the "analysis of Johnston and Siragusa, whose remarks are too often after-the-play second-guessing" (, 1/17). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Albert, Johnston and Siragusa "may have set a broadcasting record for the constant use of the 'he does a nice job' bromide in covering plays and players" (DENVER POST, 1/18). Meanwhile,'s Peter King writes he did not like Fox "going to a commercial with a compelling closeup of Kurt Warner laying on the ground, being tended to by trainers, in what might be the last game of his career" (, 1/18).

OTHER BOOTH OBSERVATIONS: In Dallas, Barry Horn writes Buck and Aikman during Vikings-Cowboys "gave up on the Cowboys" with the Vikings leading 27-3 and six minutes remaining in the game. At that time, Aikman said, "Make no mistake this is a big win for Brett Favre." Buck added, "This is the first time Brett Favre will get a playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys." Horn: "I'm not saying they were premature or they were wrong. It's just unusual for network announcers to tell their audiences a game they are working is over so early" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/18). Meanwhile, in Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote there were "too few replays [and] questions of calls" during CBS' telecast of Colts-Ravens. There "wasn't enough time for adequate replays of pivotal and/or controversial moments" during the game. Zurawik: "It was maddening not to be able to see some of the calls in slow motion or to watch replays shown from more than one angle" (, 1/16).

Writer Says Fox Reporter
"Slobbering" Over Favre
WRONG APPROACH: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich writes NFL broadcasters "venture off the field far too often in search of stories and images that have nothing to do with the game." Fox "decided that Saints [TE] Jeremy Shockey was the story" during Saints-Cardinals, while CBS turned Colts-Ravens "into the Peyton Manning show." Manning was "clearly one of the game's stars," but CBS "treated him as if he were the only player on the field." Zelkovich writes Fox also "gave similar treatment" to Cowboys QB Tony Romo during Vikings-Cowboys (TORONTO STAR, 1/18). The ST. PETE TIMES' Jones wrote Fox sideline reporter Chris Myers was "slobbering all over Brett Favre during a postgame interview." Jones: "How could he not ask about Favre's controversial touchdown pass with two minutes left?" Meanwhile, Jones noted Nantz is in a commercial with Manning for Sony televisions and wonders how CBS can let Nantz do the ad with Manning. Jones: "Why should we trust anything Nantz has to say about Manning ever again?" (, 1/17).

STUDIO CHATTER: The DAILY NEWS' Raissman wrote it "sure looks like CBS has already targeted" recently retired LB Junior Seau, "if not for a role on 'The NFL Today' then as a game analyst." Seau during an appearance on Showtime's "Inside The NFL" Wednesday was "glib, funny, insightful." CBS owns Showtime, and it "sure looked as if this was an audition for Seau." Raissman: "If it was, Seau didn't just pass. He stole the show" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/17). Meanwhile, the N.Y. POST's Mushnick wrote just because CBS studio analyst Dan Marino was a "terrific quarterback with the Dolphins doesn't mean he's unable to confuse the game to a national audience." After the Ravens-Patriots AFC Wild Card game, Marino noted Ravens QB Joe Flacco had "only 10 attempts for 34 yards passing." Marino: "And they win a playoff game in the NFL. That's amazing!" But Mushnick wrote there was "no logical reason to pass much" in the Ravens' 33-14 victory, and it "only made sense to run the ball and the clock" (N.Y. POST, 1/17).

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