SBD/September 9, 2011/NFL Season Preview

NFL Kickoff Is Second-Best Regular Season Primetime Overnight In 13 Years

NBC earned a 17.2 overnight Nielsen rating for the Packers' dramatic 42-34 win over the Saints Thursday night from 8:45-11:45pm ET, marking the second-best NFL regular-season primetime game in 13 years. The rating is down 2.8% from a 17.7 overnight for last year's Vikings-Saints NFL Kickoff game. Thursday night's telecast peaked at a 18.8 rating just before halftime. NBC won the night among all networks, earning the best primetime average (8:00-11:00pm) for any net since Fox aired the season finale of "American Idol" on May 25. NBC also marked its best non-Olympic Thursday primetime average since the series finale of "Frasier" in May '04. New Orleans led all markets with a 57.7 local rating, while Milwaukee earned a 53.1 rating (THE DAILY). The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Don Walker posted on his Twitter feed, “Giddy NBC execs must be thinking this: how do we top this Packers-Saints game next week? Answer: You don't. Just enjoy it” (TWITTER.com, 9/8). NBC's Al Michaels said following the summer's lockout, there is "as much interest, maybe even slightly more, than there has ever been in the National Football League," and he predicted ratings this season "are going to be gangbusters.” Michaels said he, analyst Cris Collinsworth and sideline reporter Michele Tafoya “were kind of kidding around the other day about we better remain No. 1 for the season. ... Otherwise, our new boss Mark Lazarus is going to put us on the waiver wire” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 9/9). 

NFL KICKOFF OVERNIGHT RATINGS TREND
YEAR
NET
MATCHUP
OVERNIGHT
'11
NBC
Packers-Saints
17.2
'10
NBC
Saints-Vikings
17.7
'09
NBC
Steelers-Titans
13.8
'08
NBC
Giants-Redskins*
10.1
'07
NBC
Colts-Saints
13.0
'06
NBC
Steelers-Dolphins
13.5
'05
ABC
Patriots-Raiders
13.1
'04
ABC
Patriots-Colts
12.6
'03
ABC
Redskins-Jets
14.5
NOTE: * = Game began early due to coverage of the Republican National Convention.
       

OPENING NIGHT REVIEWS: Michaels and Collinsworth began their third season together in the "SNF" booth, and their call of the game drew a fair amount of reaction on Twitter. The Buffalo News' Mike Harrington wrote, “Al Michaels was absurdly reserved on that final drive and the last play. Gus Johnson would have been going totally beserk.” The Globe & Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin wrote, “Love Al Michaels. While sidekick Collinsworth calls everything unbelievable, Al calls it ‘a good one.’ Understatement still works.” But the Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre asked, “Why Wasn’t Al Michaels That Impressed by Randall Cobb’s 108-Yard Kickoff Return?” The Washington Post’s Cindy Boren noted, “Can't believe how many things Collinsworth finds ‘unbelievable.’”

THURSDAY NIGHT IS "FOOTBALL NIGHT"
: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote, "With all the elements to fold into a 90-minute show, including performances by Kid Rock, Maroon 5, Lady Antebellum, along with taped interviews and live analysis, the 'Football Night in America' pre-game show was crisply presented." Aside from some "minor audio problems, the show moved tightly and swiftly. Bob Costas and Dan Patrick made something hard look easy" (JSONLINE.com, 9/8). But N.Y. Daily News columnist Bob Raissman wrote on Twitter, “It makes me nervous watching Dan Patrick, especially when he keeps looking down to read notes. He should never leave studio” (TWITTER.com, 9/8).

NOT LOSING SIGHT OF THE TASK AT HAND: The DAILY NEWS' Raissman writes following "all the pregame ceremonies, all the anticipation," it will be up to Michaels and Collinsworth "to deliver the right words" Sunday night regarding the Cowboys-Jets game with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks serving as a backdrop. Once "they kick it off on NBC's 'Sunday Night Football' Michaels will treat it as such." Michaels: "It (Cowboys-Jets) is a phenomenal game with 15 or 20 storylines. But bottom line, it's still a football game." Raissman writes, "By no means is Michaels throwing ice cubes on the significance of Sunday night as it relates to 9/11. Nor is he treating the circumstances matter-of-factly." There is substantial evidence "suggesting Michaels knows what he's talking about." Michaels' resume is "highlighted by meaningful moments and big games, which includes preparing to do play-by-play of a baseball game and winding up calling an earthquake on ABC when it hit San Francisco before Game 3 of the A's-Giants 1989 World Series" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/9). Michaels said he will try to “strike the balance" between the game and the theme of the day. Michaels: "That's what we’re going to try to do and that’s what we really always try to do” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 9/9).

REMEMBERING 9/11: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Sophie Schillaci reported Fox plans to air several features to Sunday, including one "narrated by former president George W. Bush," which is slated to air at the beginning of the "Fox NFL Sunday" pregame show at 12:00pm. Bush in the segment "talks about heroism, perseverance and recovery." Actor Robert DeNiro is also "lending his voice" as part of a pregame tribute from Shanksville, Pa. (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 9/8). The NFL and MLB, as well as several individual teams, also have tributes plans for Sunday.
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