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Fox, NBC and CBS each saw gains in overnight Nielsen ratings for their NFL coverage in Week One yesterday. Fox' national window featuring Packers-Eagles earned a 17.1, marking the net's highest-rated Week One telecast ever. The net's early window was down 4.3% -- the only NFL window to see a year-over-year decline. However, Fox did see its highest-rated Week One doubleheader (13.1 average) since '94. NBC also scored big with Cowboys-Redskins last night from 8:30-11:45pm ET, earning the net's best "SNF" overnight ever (excludes Thursday Kickoffs) since NFL coverage returned to the night prior to the '06 season. Cowboys-Redskins marked the best NFL Week One primetime matchup in 13 years, dating back to Bears-Packers in September '97. NBC earned a win last night in primetime among all nets, with "SNF" helping the net deliver the highest Sunday night average on any network since ABC televised the Academy Awards in March. Last night's game peaked at a 17.9 rating from 11:30-11:45pm. Dallas-Ft. Worth earned a 39.6 local rating for the telecast, while DC earned a 37.2 local rating. All overnight ratings from yesterday's telecasts exclude figures from the Cincinnati, Louisville and S.F./Oakland/San Jose markets due to a delay from Nielsen Media (THE DAILY).OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS FOR NFL OPENING WEEKENDNET'10 GAMERAT.'09 GAMERAT.% +/-CBS(single)10.6(single)8.229.3%Fox(regional)9.0(regional)9.4-4.3%FoxPackers-Eagles (84%)17.1Redskins-Giants (85%)15.014.0%NBCCowboys-Redskins16.6Bears-Packers13.423.9%
NFL KICKOFF: NBC's telecast of Thursday's Vikings-Saints NFL Kickoff game averaged a 16.5 final Nielsen rating and 27.5 million viewers, making it the most-viewed NFL regular-season primetime game since ABC averaged 31.5 million viewers for Packers-Cowboys in November '96. The game also was the most-viewed NFL Kickoff game ever and the most-viewed regular-season primetime game ever on NBC. The 16.5 rating also marks the highest-rated NFL regular-season primetime game on any net since Vikings-Packers earned a 16.8 in October '98. The game also earned a 60.0 local rating in New Orleans, up 7% from a 56.3 local rating for the Saints' win in Super Bowl XLIV last February. Compared to last year's Titans-Steelers NFL Kickoff, Vikings-Saints is up 29% and 27%, respectively, from a 12.8 rating and 20.9 million viewers (NBC). In Baltimore, David Zurawik noted audiences for NFL games have been "steadily growing in recent years, and this season looks like it could be off the charts" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/10).
QUICK CALL INTO ACTION: SI.com’s Peter King writes Fox made a "great addition" bringing in former NFL VP/Officiating Mike Pereira to "interpret calls in mid-game." King: “Very smart idea, popping him on the screen and letting him be interviewed by the game announcers when a controversial call happens. He nailed a Matt Ryan incomplete pass in Pittsburgh that was being reviewed; he was way ahead of everyone on the Calvin Johnson missed-catch interpretation in Chicago. We'll see how it works for a few weeks, but this could be the broadcasting innovation of the year” (SI.com, 9/13). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes the hiring of Pereira “turned out to be a genius move right out of the gate.” Fox “poured over replays” of the Johnson situation, while Pereira, “live in Fox’s studios in Los Angeles, explained the rule to viewers and correctly predicted that the pass would be ruled incomplete.” Jones: “At that point, viewers were left to wonder why no one thought of hiring a rule analyst before now” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/13). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes Pereira "probably puzzled some viewers" with his appearance during the Johnson controversy, but he "explained that the ruling was correct." Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said Pereira at least "made you understand why the call would go a certain way" (USA TODAY, 9/13). The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin writes Pereira, "sounding like a tax lawyer rather than a referee, ... made it clear that the apparent TD would be squelched" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13).
ANALYZE THIS: The ST. PETE TIMES' Jones writes it is "always somewhat surprising to listen to Warren Sapp on the NFL Network and then realize that he's not half-bad." Sapp "is a bright guy, but he always came off as someone too surly to make it on television." However, he has "discovered the secret to being good on TV: have an opinion, say it with conviction using strong superlatives and say it in a tight sound bite" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/13). In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich writes Fox studio analyst Terry Bradshaw "too often plays the clown, but when he gets serious he often hits the nail squarely on the head." Bradshaw said of suspended Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, "The Pittsburgh Steelers got rid of Super Bowl hero Santonio Holmes for failing a substance abuse test but they should have dumped you." Meanwhile, Zelkovich writes, "How can anyone take Fox NFL analyst Jimmy Johnson seriously after embarrassing himself" on CBS' "Survivor?" (TORONTO STAR, 9/13). The GLOBE & MAIL's Dowbiggin offers his list of the best analysts during Week 1. NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth tops the list, as he is "articulate, funny, critical when needs be." However, NFL Network's Michael Irvin tops the "Bottom Five," and Dowbiggin writes Irvin needs to "turn down the noise and raise the content" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13). Meanwhile, FANHOUSE.com's A.J. Perez noted a court filing in Georgia Thursday indicated that a woman has "filed a temporary restraining order against CBS NFL studio analyst Shannon Sharpe." A CBS spokesperson said that the net had no comment (FANHOUSE.com, 9/10).
HIGH DEF FOR EVERYONE: FANHOUSE.com's Milton Kent reported Fox yesterday debuted a "new distribution pattern by which all NFL games on the network will be shot and sent out in high definition, even for older standard definition sets." It should be "no surprise that Fox is the first network to attempt such a change," as from its NFL debut in '94, the net has "pushed the technological envelope, first with a graphics box with the score and clock appearing constantly in the corner of the screen" (FANHOUSE.com, 9/11). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes the non-HD picture during Fox' broadcast of yesterday's Panthers-Giants game "would strobe, shimmy and blur." Mushnick: "The game seemed to have been shot from a nearby planet or a faraway blimp" (N.Y. POST, 9/13).
DOUBLE COVERAGE: In Denver, Dusty Saunders notes CBS "remains the only network not using sideline reporters during games," but the net "really needed sideline reporting Sunday during the Broncos-Jaguars game." The game's "wild weather ranged from 93 degrees, with a heat index of 105 on the field, to rain and lightning scenarios that delayed the contest for 33 minutes at the start of the fourth quarter." Saunders writes CBS "missed important, potentially interesting coverage that was impacting both teams" (DENVER POST, 9/13)....In Dallas, Barry Horn writes NBC during last night's Cowboys-Redskins game had "nice camera work early showing disgruntled" Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth "standing by himself while his defensive teammates huddled on the sideline" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/13).
GOING GAMING: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Seth Schiesel reviewed three NFL video games: the XBox 360 version of "Madden NFL 11," the "Madden NFL Superstars" Facebook game and an "obscure Web game called Quick Hit Football." Schiesel wrote this year's "Madden" is the "most accessible, and enjoyable, that I can remember," and the "one brilliant feature EA has added this year is the ability to play online in cooperation as a virtual team." However, the "Madden NFL Superstars" game is "just another Mafia Wars or Farmville clone dressed up as a football game." Meanwhile, "Quick Hit Football" is a "great concept," but the "actual technical execution is flat-out unattractive, clunky and beneath the basic usability standards of a mass-market product" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/11).