SBD/September 12, 2011/Media

NFL Week One Overnights: Fox Ties Its Best Opener; NBC Marks Best "SNF" Ever

Fox led all NFL ratings yesterday with a 17.1 overnight for its national window, which featured Giants-Redskins in 63% of U.S. markets. The overnight is tied with last year as the net’s best NFL Week One national window ever. Fox also posted an 8.9 overnight for its regional coverage in the early window, down slightly from a 9.0 last year. NBC scored a 16.9 overnight for its coverage of the Cowboys-Jets “SNF” matchup from 8:30-11:45pm ET, marking the league’s best overnight ever for a Sunday night game. The rating also marks the best Sunday night or Monday night overnight in 15 years, dating back to a 20.2 rating for Cowboys-Bears in September ’96. Cowboys-Jets was also up 3% from Cowboys-Redskins on “SNF” in Week One last year and led NBC to a win among all nets in primetime last night. NBC had the best Sunday night overnight average for any net since ABC televised the “Academy Awards” on Feb. 27. Last night’s game earned a 38.8 local rating in Dallas-Ft. Worth and a 19.7 in N.Y. Combined with the Saints-Packers NFL Kickoff last week, NBC averaged a 17.1 overnight rating, tied with last year as the best NFL Thursday/Sunday primetime package since the league created it in ’02. CBS began the year with NFL singleheader, which featured Steelers-Ravens in most markets. The net’s 10.6 overnight is flat with last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

NFL WEEK ONE OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS
NET
'11 GAME
RAT.
'10 GAME
RAT.
% +/-
CBS
(single)
10.6
(single)
10.6
0.0%
Fox
(regional)
8.9
(regional)
9.0
-1.1%
Fox
Giants-Redskins (63%)
17.1
Packers-Eagles (84%)
17.1
0.0%
NBC
Cowboys-Jets
16.9
Cowboys-Redskins
16.4
3.0%

PAYING TRIBUTE: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes the NFL's broadcast partners "largely stayed inbounds" yesterday with their tie-ins to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Some efforts "were touching, such as NFL Network's Steve Mariucci recalling coaching" the 49ers in the Jets' first home game after the '01 tragedy. Mariucci and NFL Network's Rich Eisen "teared up at video of Mariucci's postgame locker room speech" (USA TODAY, 9/12). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes the "most touching" 9/11-themed segment was Mariucci talking about that 49ers-Jets game. There was "footage of Mariucci's postgame speech after the 49ers beat the Jets, when Mariucci dedicated game balls to then-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani as well as firefighters and police officers." Jones: "A tearful Mariucci described that day and likely had some viewers reaching for tissues. It might have been his finest moment as a broadcaster" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/12). FOXSPORTS.com's Brian Lowry writes, "For the most part, TV struck the proper balance, but juxtaposing the giddiness surrounding the season kickoff -- especially after the summer of the lockout -- with the somberness of Sept. 11 couldn’t help but be awkward." The networks "didn't let Sept. 11 overshadow football." Mostly, the "hits and misses boiled down to tone." Lowry adds, "Fox manages to make viewing any of its marquee sports events feel like a patriotic duty" (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/12).

TALENT REVIEW: YAHOO SPORTS' Jason Cole reviewed Week One and wrote he "loved" the "honest analysis of Fox commentator and former coach Jim Mora Jr." Mora may be a "bit cliché-ridden, but he can explain the X’s and O’s of the game in very easy to understand ways and comes up with some funny stuff along the way." After the Chargers "scored the go-ahead touchdown in the second half, Mora criticized Minnesota for chasing down San Diego’s Philip Rivers and allowing running back Mike Tolbert to get behind the coverage." It was a "stupid play by the Vikings and Mora made that clear by noting that Rivers runs a '6.5 40.'" Cole: "That’s hyperbole, but it was a great, succinct way to make the point" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/11). In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote the quality of Joe Buck's voice after he got a throat virus last year "has not affected the content of his play-by-play stylings." Raissman: "Buck's still one of the best. Problem is, he's painful to listen to. Makes you feel bad for the cat. It also gives you that nails-over-a-blackboard feeling. It's disconcerting, to say the least" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/11). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes former NFLer Kris Jenkins' debut as a panelist on SportsNet N.Y.'s "Jets Game Plan" showed him "to be, as suspected, a keeper." Jenkins was "relaxed, relevant and he seems disinclined to be a Jets' spokesman" (N.Y. POST, 9/12).

THE SHOW BEFORE THE SHOW: NBC's "Football Night In America" earned a 6.8 overnight rating last night from 7:30-8:15pm, up 84% from the net's Week One show last year. "Fox NFL Sunday" earned a 3.5 overnight, up slightly from a 3.4 rating last year. CBS saw a slight dip for "The NFL Today" (2.8 vs 2.9). ESPN earned a 2.1 overnight for its first "Sunday NFL Countdown" of the season, down 12.5% from a 2.4 rating last year (Karp). The ST. PETE TIMES' Jones writes "The NFL Today" had a "strong season debut Sunday." The crew members "cut out their usual yuck-fest and got down to the business of football," and it "made for a solid hour." However, the "Fox NFL Sunday" crew "did a little too much clowning around Sunday." Jones: "Normally, I'm a big fan of Howie Long, but there are times when he just starts talking and goofing with one of his partners when one of the other analysts is talking. He did it Sunday and completely talked over rules expert Mike Pereira. It's maddening for viewers, especially because Long is so good otherwise" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/12).

SOURCE AWARDS
: SI.com's Peter King writes Fox wins the "Horsecrap Journalism of the Week Award" for using his "quote from Tony Dungy about Lee Roy Selmon and putting it on the screen of the Lions-Bucs telecast without sourcing" (SI.com, 9/12).

MUST-SEE TV: NBC finished with a 16.0 final rating and 27.2 million viewers for the Saints-Packers NFL Kickoff game last Thursday night, marking the second-best rating for an NFL regular-season game in primetime on any net since Cowboys-Vikings earned a 16.2 on ABC in November '99. The audience also marks the second-best viewership in 15 years, dating back to Packers-Cowboys in November '96. The game gave NBC a win in primetime and marked the highest-rated primetime program on any net since the "Academy Awards" in February (THE DAILY). SI's King said, “The amazing thing to me is everybody was talking in the offseason about the game is in trouble and how are you going to get the game back. Well, it’s incredible! The ratings are almost what the ratings were a year ago, and it’s the second-highest primetime ratings of all-time. The one thing about this game I think it proved about the NFL is that it did not take them long to recover from the lockout” (“NBC Sports Talk,” Versus, 9/9). The N.Y. POST's Mushnick wrote NBC's camera work Thursday "was superb, from close-ups of field positions to tracking pass routes to showing holes at the line of scrimmage." Mushnick: "As good as we've seen from the Fred Gaudelli-Drew Esocoff team. Best-seat-in-the-house stuff" (N.Y. POST, 9/11).

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