SBD/January 24, 2011/Media

CBS Draws 31.3 Overnight For AFC Title Game; Fox Gets 30.0 For NFC

Steelers-Jets receives highest overnight ratings for AFC Championship since '87
CBS earned a 31.3 overnight Nielsen rating for its coverage of the AFC Championship game from 6:45-10:00pm ET last night. The game, which saw the Steelers hold off a late rally from the Jets and win 24-19, was down 6.0% from a 33.3 overnight for the comparable Saints-Vikings NFC Championship game last year, which also aired in primetime. However, it was up 10% from the early-window Colts-Jets AFC title game in ’10. Steelers-Jets peaked with a 33.1 rating from 9:00-9:30pm. It also earned the highest overnight rating for an AFC title game since the ’87 Broncos-Browns game. Meanwhile, Fox’ early-window broadcast of the NFC Championship game, which saw the Packers beat the Bears 21-14, earned a 30.0 overnight Nielsen rating from 3:00-6:15pm. The game is down 9.9% from Saints-Vikings in ’10 but up 6% from the comparable Colts-Jets game. Packers-Bears earned the highest overnight rating for a conference championship game in the early window since the ’97 Packers-Panthers game. Yesterday’s NFC game peaked at a 34.6 in the final quarter hour. The game drew a 57.0 local rating in the Milwaukee market and a 50.6 local rating in Chicago (THE DAILY).

COVERAGE REVIEWS
: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes CBS "kept it simple" for Steelers-Jets, showing the game with "little visual or verbal adornments." There was "nothing more needed or wanted in CBS's AFC Championship production that wasn't provided." However, Fox during Packers-Bears "encouraged us to pretend to be dopey, but just for the sake of the telecast." Fox "brought its NFL pregame show on-site," and Mushnick writes, "Did it make the pregame better? Not a bit. But since when did that matter?" Meanwhile, Fox analyst Troy Aikman during the game was "as succinct and as strong" as he has been all season (N.Y. POST, 1/24). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes Fox' camera work was "as good Sunday as it has been all year, and announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were solid." When Bears QB Jay Cutler "fumbled the ball with just under two minutes left in the first half," Bears RB Matt Forte "picked up the ball and started to run with it, but officials blew the play dead for seemingly no reason." Buck "immediately reminded viewers that the only player who can advance a fumble in the last two minutes of a half is the player who fumbled it." Jones: "Nice work" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/24). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley lists his Highs and Lows from Fox' coverage of Packers-Bears. Fox sideline reporter Chris Myers "did an outstanding job delivering important injury information in-game," as he was "on top of the right knee injury" to Cutler. Myers "let viewers know that Cutler was not coming back into the game after the first series in the third quarter," and in his postgame interview with Bears coach Lovie Smith, Myers was "able to get Smith to tell viewers that the injury Cutler suffered came in the last series of the first half." Fox also "did a good job of following up on the issue of the condition of the field as the game went along" at Soldier Field. However, Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira "missed on a challenge of an interception made by" Packers CB Sam Shields (JSONLINE.com, 1/23).

ASTUTE ANALYSIS
: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Aikman's "sparse, almost quiet analysis, particularly about quarterback play, is outstanding." Aikman yesterday during Packers-Bears "ably dissected the play of Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie." His analysis was "superior to that of CBS' Phil Simms in the AFC title game" (DENVER POST, 1/24). Meanwhile, the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES' Jones writes, "Perhaps the best analysts of the NFL games on Sunday weren't on television, but on the radio." Westwood One announcers Randy Cross and Mark Malone "were excellent" in their coverage of Packers-Bears. Their "best moment came when Malone said it was well known that ... Cutler has some of the worst mechanics in the league and those poor habits often lead to an interception." Moments later, Cutler "threw off his back foot and the result was an interception" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/24).

A SECOND CAREER: In N.Y., Bob Raissman reported the "winds of change -- or addition -- could be blowing through ESPN or CBS' NFL pregame shows." Sources said that both networks are "impressed" with Jets DE Jason Taylor, "who has appeared on both outlets during the season, and might be reserving a studio seat for him" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/23). Meanwhile, USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand reports ESPN today will formally announce that Saints coach Sean Payton "will join its four-hour Super Bowl pregame coverage" before Fox starts its pregame programming. Payton also will appear as an analyst on the Thursday and Friday before the game (USA TODAY, 1/24). Payton that Friday will appear on "The Champions," a special that includes "round-table discussions among all of ESPN's analysts with Super Bowl rings" (NOLA.com, 1/23).

TO SERVE & PROTECT?
FANHOUSE.com's Milton Kent reported CBS' Simms and Jim Nantz last week "were all too happy to refute allegations that they took a little off their respective fastballs recently and made too nice" with the Patriots during their coverage of the Jets-Patriots AFC Divisional game. Simms: "I walk out of the booth almost every week (and hear), 'Aw, you don't say enough good things about us.'" Simms added sarcastically, "That's OK. You're right. I want to show favoritism and get fired." Nantz: "We're never out to protect anyone. We're there to observe and tell people what we see" (FANHOUSE.com, 1/21).
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