SBD/January 17, 2012/Media

NFL Earns Best Divisional Weekend Audience Ever; Giants-Packers Top Divisional Game

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Giants-Packers earns best NFL Divisional Game rating since '97

The four NFL Divisional playoff games across CBS and Fox averaged 36.6 million viewers this past weekend, marking the most-viewed NFL Divisional weekend ever. The 36.6 million viewers are up 4% from last season’s record-setting Divisional weekend, which averaged 35.1 million viewers. The four NFL Divisional telecasts were also the four most-viewed telecasts on all of TV last week, topping the BCS National Championship on ESPN. Fox’ broadcast of Giants-Packers Sunday led the way with a 25.3 fast-national Nielsen rating and 45.1 million viewers, marking the most-viewed NFL Divisional game ever and highest-rated NFL Divisional game since the net earned a 27.6 rating for Panthers-Cowboys in ’97. The 25.3 rating is also up 5% from a 24.2 for CBS’ Jets-Patriots in the late window last year. Giants-Packers marks TV’s most-viewed broadcast since Super Bowl XLV last February. 49ers-Saints was the second-best audience of the weekend with 35.6 million viewers. CBS finished with an 18.5 rating and 34.2 million viewers for the highly-anticipated Patriots-Broncos game, which ended in a 45-10 blowout. The game was the least-viewed of the four NFL Divisional games last weekend, but was still up from the comparable 17.0 rating and 30.8 million viewers for Fox’ Packers-Falcons in the Saturday primetime slot last year. Sunday’s Ravens-Texans game finished with a 19.0 rating, down slightly from the comparable Bears-Seahawks game on Fox last year. Through three playoff telecasts, CBS is averaging 36.1 million viewers, marking the highest-mark for the AFC package in at least 25 years (CBS records go back to the ’87 season). The average rating of 20.6 is the highest three-game AFC playoff mark since NBC averaged a 21.1 rating in ’96 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes with "three teams from the top seven TV markets, the NFL could wind up with record playoff ratings" this weekend (USA TODAY, 1/17). Listed below is a ratings and viewership trend for the NFL Divisional games from the last five seasons.

'12
DAY
START (ET)
NET
MATCHUP
RAT
VIEWERS (000)
Sat.
4:36pm
Fox
49ers-Saints
20.5
35,600
Sat.
8:15pm
CBS
Patriots-Broncos
18.5
34,161
Sun.
1:00pm
CBS
Ravens-Texans
19.0
30,983
Sun.
4:39pm
Fox
Giants-Packers
25.3
45,100
'11
DAY
START (ET)
NET
MATCHUP
RAT
VIEWERS (000)
Sat.
4:36pm
CBS
Steelers-Ravens
19.4
34,009
Sat.
8:16pm
Fox
Packers-Falcons
17.0
30,817
Sun.
1:06pm
Fox
Bears-Seahawks
19.1
32,493
Sun.
4:41pm
CBS
Jets-Patriots
24.2
43,463
'10
DAY
START (ET)
NET
MATCHUP
RAT
VIEWERS (000)
Sat.
4:35pm
Fox
Saints-Cardinals
16.1
27,910
Sat.
8:16pm
CBS
Colts-Ravens
17.0
30,569
Sun.
1:06pm
Fox
Vikings-Cowboys
22.0
37,669
Sun.
4:41pm
CBS
Jets-Chargers
20.1
35,627
'09
DAY
START (ET)
NET
MATCHUP
RAT
VIEWERS (000)
Sat.
4:34pm
CBS
Ravens-Titans
15.4
25,453
Sat.
8:16pm
Fox
Cardinals-Panthers
13.8
23,776
Sun.
1:07pm
Fox
Eagles-Giants
18.7
31,358
Sun.
4:46pm
CBS
Steelers-Chargers
19.6
34,107
'08
DAY
START (ET)
NET
MATCHUP
RAT
VIEWERS (000)
Sat.
4:35
Fox
Packers-Seahawks
17.0
28,200
Sat.
8:16
CBS
Patriots-Jaguars
17.9
30,896
Sun.
1:06
CBS
Chargers-Colts
20.2
31,600
Sun.
4:47
Fox
Giants-Cowboys
23.6
40,100
 

NEED TO STEP IT UP: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Fox' Joe Buck and Troy Aikman "need to step it up Sunday working the [NFC] Championship Game in San Francisco." On the surface, Buck and Aikman "did fine in Green Bay," but they "could’ve done better." As usual, Aikman "does well analyzing what’s unfolding in front of him," but sometimes he "leaves holes and questions unanswered." Raissman: "It would help too if Buck and Aikman could connect through an entire game. Sometimes, they talk past each other" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/17).

WHERE WERE YOU ON THAT ONE? In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes with the Giants leading the Packers 10-3 in the first quarter of Sunday's game, a controversial call "looked like a perfect Mike Pereira moment." One game official "ruled that Packers receiver Greg Jennings had fumbled the ball after a catch, but a second official said Jennings’s calf was down before the ball came loose." Yet there was "no rapid -- or even reasonably fast -- response from Pereira," the Fox analyst who previously was an NFL official. Meanwhile, Buck and Aikman were "criticizing the call on the air, certain that it would not stand." Before Pereira "finally appeared on the screen, Bill Leavy, the referee, upheld the ruling of the second official that there was no fumble." The Packers then "ran off four plays, Fox went to a commercial break, the second quarter began and Green Bay tied the score, 10-10." Pereira said yesterday, "That was a product of us all thinking it would be overturned and it wouldn’t be a big issue. ... Troy was already on it. They don’t need me to validate what he said." Pereira added, "We were all surprised, and that’s why we held off." Pereira on air "refused to excoriate Leavy, a former colleague," though his "polite words made it clear how much he disagreed" with the call (N.Y. TIMES, 1/17).

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