SBD/January 24, 2012/Media

NFL Sees Most-Viewed Conference Championship Sunday In 30 Years

Giants-49ers was third-highest viewed NFL Conference Championship game ever

The NFL Conference Championship games averaged 53.7 million viewers across Fox and CBS, marking the most-viewed Conference Championship Sunday since '82, when NBC’s Bengals-Chargers and CBS’ 49ers-Cowboys combined to average 60.2 million viewers. This year’s two games also mark the most-viewed programs on all of TV since the Super Bowl last February. Fox finished with a 30.6 rating and 57.6 million viewers for the Giants-49ers NFC Championship, marking the third-highest viewership ever for an NFL Conference Championship game. Giants-49ers is up 8% and 5%, respectively, from a 28.3 rating and 54.9 million viewers for the comparable Steelers-Jets AFC Championship on CBS in the late window last year, and up 9% and 11%, respectively, from the Packers-Bears NFC Championship in the early window. Giants-49ers also peaked at 69.0 million viewers in the 10:00-10:45pm ET window. For the '12 NFC Playoffs, Fox averaged a 23.9 rating and 42.6 million viewers, marking the net's most-viewed NFL Playoffs ever, and up 11% and 10%, respectively, from a 21.6 rating and 38.7 million viewers last year. Meanwhile, CBS earned a 27.4 rating and 48.7 million viewers for the Patriots-Ravens AFC Championship from 3:07-6:16pm ET, down from the early window NFC Championship last year and down from CBS' AFC Championship in the late window. However, the 48.7 million viewers mark the second-best viewership for an AFC Championship in 30 years, behind only last year's game. Patriots-Ravens also marks the highest-rated early AFC Championship in 17 years and most-viewed early window AFC Championship in 30 years (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In Baltimore, David Zurawik noted WJZ-CBS reported that "1.112 million area viewers watched the Ravens-Patriots" game. WJZ GM Jay Newman said that the game set "what is believed to be a record for the station," with Nielsen data indicating that the game was "seen by 78,000 more local viewers than watched the Ravens-Giants Super Bowl" in '01 (BALTIMORESUN.com, 1/23). Meanwhile, in Houston, David Barron noted KHOU-CBS drew a 28.1 local rating for the game, "which ranked 33rd among the 56 major markets." KRIV-Fox drew a 28.9 local rating for the Giants-49ers NFC Championship game, which "ranked 43rd" (CHRON.com, 1/23).

MOST-VIEWED NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
YEAR
NETWORK
GAME
VIEWERS (000)
'82
CBS
49ers-Cowboys
68,690
'10
Fox
Saints-Vikings
57,933
'12
Fox
Giants-49ers
57,600
'95
Fox
49ers-Cowboys
56,808
'11
CBS
Steelers-Jets
54,850
       

PREDICTING SUPER RATINGS: In N.Y., Richard Huff writes a "record number of viewers could tune [in] to the Super Bowl rematch between the Giants and the Patriots" on Feb. 5. Horizon Media Senior VP & Dir of Research Brad Adgate said, "It could very well surpass last year’s record of 111 million viewers. It is a rematch of one of the most exciting Super Bowl games played." Huff notes predictions of "big ratings for the Super Bowl come after a weekend of huge audiences for the AFC and NFC championships" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/24). In DC, Tracee Hamilton writes NBC "got lucky with the Tom Brady vs. Eli Manning matchup in Super Bowl XLVI." The huge fan base across New England and the N.Y. area "guarantees good ratings for NBC" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/24). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said of the Giants-Patriots matchup, “This is the game that America wants. This is the right game. Nobody wanted the Harbaughs in there, nobody. Except the Harbaughs” ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 1/23).

GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH? In Toronto, Cathal Kelly writes despite being broadcast in "roughly 230 foreign territories, only a third of the total Super Bowl audience comes from outside" the U.S. So the "self-proclaimed 'greatest show on Earth' comes up well short when compared to the Olympics, the World Cup, the European Football Championships, the Champions League and any cricket match that involves both India and Pakistan." Kelly writes what the NFL "wants is what the other football already has -- a pipeline into all those homes in the developing world" (TORONTO STAR, 1/24).

BLACKING OUT? In Boston, Johnny Diaz notes Miami-based Sunbeam Television Corp., which owns Boston’s WHDH-Fox, has "blacked out its stations on satellite provider DirecTV in a dispute over fees, but could declare a truce and temporarily restore service if both parties fail to come to terms before" the Super Bowl. What Sunbeam officials "won’t say is whether they will allow viewers to see the big game on DirecTV, as they did in Miami for a playoff match." The company "lifted a blackout at its Miami Fox affiliate station for last Sunday’s NFC championship game, a special edition of 'American Idol,' and that evening’s local newscast and sports show." On Thursday, U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) sent FCC Chair Julius Genachowski a letter "requesting he ask DirecTV and Sunbeam 'to reach terms under which the signal will be restored.'" U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) sent a letter to DirecTV and Sunbeam officials on Friday, asking them to "come to a resolution before the Super Bowl" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/24).

ANOTHER SPECIAL IDOL: In N.Y., Bill Carter wrote Fox, doing "everything it can to stave off the first significant ratings slide for its hit 'American Idol,' is giving its audience an extra shot at viewing Sunday’s special edition of the singing competition." Because the Giants-49ers game went into OT, the show was "relegated mostly to the 11 p.m. time slot, meaning it doesn’t count in the prime-time ratings (only three minutes will count)." As a result, the special "drew an audience of 19.8 million viewers, fewer than watched the show’s premiere last week, even though it followed a National Football League game seen by more than 50 million viewers." Fox will replay the Sunday night special tonight at 8:00pm ET (NYTIMES.com, 1/23).

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