SBD/December 19, 2011/Media

CBS' Patriots-Broncos Marks Best NFL Regular-Season Overnight Since '07

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CBS won the night in primetime behind 33-minute NFL overrun

CBS earned a 19.5 overnight Nielsen rating for its NFL national window yesterday afternoon, which featured Patriots-Broncos in 79% of markets. That rating marks the best NFL overnight on any net this season and best regular-season figure since CBS earned a 22.5 overnight for Patriots-Colts in Nov. ’07 -- a matchup which had both teams undefeated headed into Week Nine. The 33-minute overrun from CBS’ national window, combined with the live "Survivor" season finale -- helped the net earn a primetime win last night, marking only the second time during the last 44 weeks that NBC has not won Sunday night. NBC, which wanted Patriots-Broncos flexed to “SNF," earned an 11.3 overnight for the Chargers' blowout win over the Ravens last night. Ravens-Chargers earned a 38.4 local rating in Baltimore and a 32.0 rating in San Diego. While CBS did see a big number for its national window, weaker matchups in the early window led to a 33% drop in the overnight rating. Fox also earned a 15.0 overnight for its singleheader yesterday, fueled by the Chiefs' upset of the undefeated Packers. That rating marks the net's best singleheader overnight rating in 12 years (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

NFL WEEK 15 OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS
NET
'11 GAME
RAT.
NET
'10 GAME
RAT.
% +/-
Fox
(single)
15.0
CBS
(single)
14.3
4.9%
CBS
(regional)
7.2
Fox
(regional)
10.7
-32.7%
CBS
Patriots-Broncos (79%)
19.5
Fox
Jets-Steelers (92%)
16.8
16.1%
NBC
Ravens-Chargers
11.3
NBC
Packers-Patriots
15.2
-25.7%
 
 

KEEPING RECORD PACE: NFL Network is averaging 6.4 million viewers through seven game telecasts this season, up 19% from 5.4 million viewers through the same point last season. The net finished its slate of eight games last season with a record 5.7 million viewers. Saturday night's Cowboys-Buccaneers game averaged 5.6 million viewers, up 27% from the comparable Panthers-Steelers game in Week 15 last year (NFL Network).

TALENT REVIEWS: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes CBS analysts Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were “at their best” during Patriots-Broncos and “captured the ebb and flow of the high-scoring game, accurately noting how Denver's mistakes, particularly in the second quarter, basically destroyed a chance for victory against the veteran Patriots.” Saunders writes credit is due to “producer Lance Barrow and director Mike Arnold, who provided the needed up-close coverage of two key plays -- the somewhat disputed Patriots touchdowns during New England's 20-point second quarter.” Nantz “accurately pinpointed Denver's season-long problems in that 15 minutes of play throughout the season, noting that both the offense and defense had a tendency to fall apart.” And while Tebowmania “shook the stadium, both broadcasters refrained from any reverential commentary while pointing out Tebow's skills and team leadership” (DENVER POST, 12/19). In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes when it comes to TV analysts, there is NBC’s Cris Collinsworth, and then, “there is everybody else.” Collinsworth “was at his best Sunday night” for Ravens-Chargers. Listening to Collinsworth, “you got to the point where you not only understood what San Diego was doing to the Ravens, but could anticipate it.” Zurawik writes for the rest of the “pre-game and game telecast, it wasn’t the NBC team’s greatest game of the year,” but it was “still better than any other prime-time football coverage” (Baltimore SUN, 12/19). Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes NFL Network had the “best coverage” of the Week 15 games with Cowboys-Buccaneers Saturday night. Viewers “would have to admit the network’s work is outstanding, especially that of [Brad] Nessler and partner Mike Mayock.” Jones: “The camera work on NFL Network games is excellent” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/19).

HANDLING THE HURD STORY: The major NFL pregame shows largely skipped over the story of former Bears WR Sam Hurd being arrested on federal drug charges. “Fox NFL Sunday” touched on Hurd at the beginning of its “Headlines” segment four minutes into the program. Fox’s NFL Curt Menefee introduced it by saying, “A truly bizarre story.” Menefee and Fox’ Jay Glazer later addressed the story again, with Glazer referring to it as a “crazy story” and following up the initial report with more details. NFL Network's “NFL GameDay Morning” mentioned Hurd 34 minutes in, but had no discussion of the story, while ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" also mentioned Hurd during its "Week in Review" segment 50 minutes in sans discussion. Hurd was not brought up during CBS' "The NFL Today" (THE DAILY). In N.Y., Bob Raissman yesterday wrote “don’t hold your breath” expecting CBS’ James Brown to voice a Sam Hurd headline “before presenting an extensive, detailed report on the bust and the serious ramifications of it, especially if other players were among Hurd’s customers.” Raissman: “CBS won’t totally ignore the story. That would be foolish. Brown will likely state the facts and move on. That’s known as covering your posterior.” The same “will hold true on ‘Fox’s NFL Sunday’" where host Curt Menefee will "briefly interrupt the laughfest and probably do the same thing.” The wild card here is ESPN, as the net ” (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 12/17). The ST. PETE TIMES' Jones writes CBS’ Boomer Esiason “made a super point during ‘NFL Today’ on Sunday when he said more players, such as the Panthers’ Steve Smith, should be criticizing” Hurd instead of "going out of their way to take shots" at Tebow. Having said that, “the pregame shows could have spent a little more time” talking about the situation (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/19).

BECOMING PART OF THE STORY: YAHOO SPORTS’ Doug Farrar wrote a video during NFL Net’s Thursday pregame coverage showed Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff “being restrained by two of Ratliff’s teammates in the team’s locker room during media access time.” The “target of Ratliff's ire was ESPN Dallas reporter Calvin Watkins, and though the subject of Ratliff's annoyance was unknown at the time, the sheer number of bleeps in the quick feed pretty much told the story.” Farrar cited the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram’s Mac Engel who wrote, “What happened in the Cowboys' locker room between nose tackle Jay Ratliff and a veteran Cowboys beat reporter on Thursday should not come as a giant surprise. … On Thursday, Watkins was asking Ratliff about the news regarding former Cowboys receiver Sam Hurd's arrest for drug trafficking” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/16).

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