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NBC earned a 47.8 overnight Nielsen rating for the Giants’ 21-17 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, down slightly from a 47.9 rating for last year’s Packers-Steelers matchup on Fox. Giants-Patriots still ranks as the third-best overnight for any Super Bowl, behind only Packers-Steelers and the '87 Giants-Broncos matchup on CBS. The overnight is up 7% from a 44.7 for the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl XLII on Fox in ‘08. Last night's game started at a 43.3 rating in the 6:30-7:00pm ET window, peaking at a 51.8 rating as the game concluded from 9:30-10:00pm. NBC’s pregame coverage averaged a 12.0 from 2:00-6:30pm, down 2% from last year on Fox. Madonna’s halftime performance earned a 48.1 overnight, up from a 47.4 for the Black Eyed Peas last year. Postgame coverage from 10:00-10:15pm earned a 35.3 overnight (+17%), while “The Voice” from 10:15-11:15pm earned a 20.1 rating, up 31% from Fox’ episode of “Glee” following the game last year. In Boston, the game earned a 56.7 local rating to lead all U.S. markets for the telecast and marking the best figure ever for an NFL game in the market, topping a 56.1 rating for the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl XXXVI telecast. N.Y. earned a 49.7 local rating, ranking the market 18th overall, but still the second-best NFL overnight ever in the market, behind only a 53.4 rating for the Giants-Broncos Super Bowl XXI, which was the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl. Host market Indianapolis earned a 56.4 local rating, which is the second-best rating among U.S. markets. Final ratings and viewership figures for Super Bowl XLVI will be available later today (THE DAILY).
TOP FIVE SUPER BOWL OVERNIGHT RATINGSSUPER BOWLYEAR
MATCHUPNETRATINGXLV'11 Packers-SteelersFox47.9XXI'87 Giants-BroncosCBS47.9XLVI'12 Giants-PatriotsNBC47.8XIV'80 Steelers-RamsCBS47.4XX'86 Bears-PatriotsNBC46.9
WATCH AND LEARN: In Miami, Barry Jackson writes NBC's broadcast "was a blueprint for how a Super Bowl broadcast should be done." With "exceptional announcing, timely but restrained use of graphics and nifty angles on replays, NBC delivered exemplary coverage of Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday." Analyst Cris Collinsworth "wasted few words and offered analysis rich in insight and details." He had a "strong case in suggesting the Giants not score a touchdown, and instead opt for a short field goal, late in the game if it meant leaving too much time on the clock for the Patriots." Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels was "typically diligent about disseminating pertinent details quickly after plays and added flavor to the broadcast with anecdotes and tidbits." NBC limited graphics "largely to meaningful numbers and records." The net also made "prudent use of isolations on replays, one of which showed how Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was slowed early by an ankle injury." Sideline reporter Michele Tafoya had "fast updates on injuries to two Giants tight ends" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/6). SI.com's Richard Deitsch notes viewers got multiple looks at Giants QB Eli Manning's 38-yard pass to WR Mario Manningham in the fourth quarter, "including a bird's eye image, a view from behind Manning, and a zoom on Manningham's feet." It was "terrific stuff, and those at home knew before the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium that the catch would be ruled good." NBC also showed a "reaction of both coaches after the call stood," as well as a shot of former NFLer David Tyree, whose miraculous catch in Super Bowl XLII helped the Giants beat the Patriots, on the Giants sideline. Deitsch: "It was fantastic work." Still, there were some "missteps during the game." Michaels "mistook Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman for running back Danny Woodhead" during a kick return and NBC pulled off Giants WR Victor Cruz "way too early when he was in the middle of his trademark salsa touchdown dance." However, those are "small nitpicks and NBC's game telecast deserves viewer praise" (SI.com, 2/6).
SOLID CAMERA WORK: In California, John Maffei writes the "third quarter was when the network shined." There were "great shots and commentary" when Patriots QB Tom Brady went to the sideline following a sack "and was seen flexing his shoulder." There was a "great sideline shot of Giants tight end Jake Ballard collapsing on the sideline as he tried to test an injured leg." There were "multiple replays and isolated shots of Mario Manningham as he made a sideline grab" on the Giants' winning drive (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 2/6). In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes during a Super Bowl broadcast, there are "some camera shots you expect and some that surprise you." NBC did "just that when it caught Jake Ballard, who had hurt his ankle, trying to run and cut on the sidelines and falling down in a heap." He was "in obvious pain," and the shot "was poignant" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/6). In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes, "As has been the case all season, Michaels, Collinsworth and the producers and director of the game telecast were superb." It seemed as if "everyone on the NBC Sports team was on his or her game." Zurawik: "What superb camera work late in the fourth quarter on Mario Manningham’s marvelous sideline catch. NBC had it from every angle to show the Giants receiver getting both feet down with total control of the ball" (Baltimore SUN, 2/6). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth praises the "fourth-quarter performance by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, keeping us up to speed on clock management, the time-out situation and why it was counter-intuitive for the Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw to score a go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute left." Michaels and Collinsworth were "mapping out the rest of the journey" and all "we had to do was enjoy the ride." Neither Michaels nor Collinsworth nor the "rest of the NBC production and talent involved in the broadcast will have to second-guess any perceived mistakes in post-game meetings" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/6).
DYNAMIC DUO: The AP's Jake Coyle writes Collinsworth "offered proof that he's the best color man in the business." He was "most at home in the biggest moments, when commentators are most needed" (AP, 2/6). In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel writes Collinsworth was the "star of the night." Trammel: "His best insight? The criticism of Mario Manningham's route-running on the deep fade. Very insightful. Then later, when Manningham made the catch of the year, Collinsworth's instruction was proved solid" (THE OKLAHOMAN, 2/6). In New Jersey, John Rowe writes under the header, "Al Michaels Was In Top Form" (Bergen RECORD, 2/6). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Michaels and Collinsworth were "in sync from the start, capturing the ebb and flow of the lead-changing contest" (DENVER POST, 2/6). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes Michaels was "predictably smooth on play-by-play," and Collinsworth "seemed to loosen up by the second half and became more authoritative" (USA TODAY, 2/6). In Toronto, Ken Fidlin writes the "beauty of true professionals Michaels and Collinsworth is that they don't do anything but provide clarity" (TORONTO SUN, 2/6). In Tampa Bay, Tom Jones writes Michaels and Collinsworth "did the best they could with a game that was dull for a good chunk of the night despite the close score." Give the two "credit for not overhyping the action." They "educate the casual football fan while never insulting the diehard" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/6).
CAN'T PLEASE EVERYBODY: In San Diego, Jay Posner writes NBC "didn't have a bad Super Bowl," but it "could have -- and should have -- been better." Michaels and Collinsworth "failed to discuss what seemed to be an obvious question: Should the New England Patriots allow the New York Giants to score the go-ahead touchdown with about a minute remaining in the fourth quarter?" The announcers "did discuss the situation with about 1:40 to go, but only from the Giants’ perspective." No one "raised the possibility of New England doing what Green Bay did in Super Bowl XXXII at Qualcomm Stadium and intentionally letting its opponent score." It also was "inexcusable for director Drew Esocoff to cut away from Victor Cruz before the Giants receiver did his touchdown salsa dance" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/6). In Houston, David Barron writes Michaels "got off to a rough start when he was slow to grasp that the Patriots would be assessed a safety for a grounding penalty against Brady in the end zone" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/6). In Albany, Pete Dougherty writes Michaels and Collinsworth have "set the bar so high that it is surprising when they fail the audience in any respect." That "happened several times Sunday night." Michaels was "off his game early" (Albany TIMES UNION, 2/6). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes it "wasn't a bad telecast, just a funky one, loaded with quick cutaways from the field for no apparent reason." For the two weeks before the Super Bowl, the "biggest unknown story was the condition of the Patriots’ record-setting tight end Rob Gronkowski, hurting with a high ankle sprain." NBC before kickoff "even provided a report on Gronkowski’s condition, showing a close-up of Gronkowski’s left ankle, tape covering the outside of his shoe." When the "game began, Gronkowski in the lineup, NBC completely ignored him" (N.Y. POST, 2/6).
There were moments yesterday when NBC's Super Bowl pregame show "felt as if it were headed into a quality abyss," but NBC’s "missteps were balanced by a pacing that never let football stray too far from the viewers’ attention," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. NBC kept "shuttling back" to studio analysts Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy; "hired guns for the day" Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Steelers WR Hines Ward; and to hosts Bob Costas and Dan Patrick. Harrison was at his "best, bringing emotion to the broadcast, especially his lingering disappointment" that the Patriots, his former team, lost to the Giants four years ago in Super Bowl XLII. Each time Harrison appeared onscreen, he "demonstrated an electric personality that contrasts nicely with Dungy’s calm, even priestly demeanor." There were "times in the five hours when I felt as if NBC’s Olympic unit had taken over the pregame show" with a "bunch of heart-tugging features." Of most significance was Peter King’s feature "about Steve Gleason, a former New Orleans Saint, who has ALS" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/6). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes NBC's pregame "largely followed the usual format and was pretty good." Rodgers was "understandably diplomatic -- he's an active player -- but at least took a shot at the Giants." Hiestand notes, "Inevitably, there was hype for all things NBC." Some of the football features, like the "one about ex-New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason ... and the unusual life stories of Giants Mathias Kiwanuka and Zoltan Mesko, had the up-close-and-personal polish of NBC's Olympics coverage" (USA TODAY, 2/6). SI.com's Richard Deitsch writes aside from the features, the best part of the pregame was when NBC "took viewers onto the field or inside the stadium, from studio host Dan Patrick and analyst Rodney Harrison speaking in front of Tom Brady's locker to Patrick, studio analyst Tony Dungy and Harrison in the end zone an hour before kickoff." The pacing of the pregame was "much better than last year's pregame on Fox, but the five-hour show still delivered too much cross-promotional nonsense and too frequent cuts to celebrity interviews." Deitsch: "The lowest of the low was NBC late-night host Jimmy Fallon dressing up in drag for a skit called 'the Real Housewives of Indianapolis,' arguably the worst pregame segment in NFL history" (SI.com, 2/6).
Writers call Harrison "star" of pregame show,
praising his analysis and candor
RODGERS MAKES PEOPLE TAKE NOTICE: The TAMPA BAY TIMES' Jones writes, "Wow, was Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers good on NBC's Super Bowl pregame show." His performance "guaranteed that if he wants, he can be a broadcaster in his post-playing days." What is "stunning is how much faith NBC put in him." Even though Rodgers has "never been a broadcaster, NBC's plan all along was to give him significant air time." He was "smooth, calm and insightful, and he sounded like a broadcasting veteran." It "was surprising how good he was" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/6). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes Rodgers "offered up insightful information, was very personable and didn't try to upstage anyone." Twitter reviews of his performance "came from all over the place, including James Andrew Miller, author of the recent ESPN oral history book who tweeted: 'How much money will ESPN try to throw Aaron Rodgers way one day to have him as an analyst -- and keep him off NBC, CBS and Fox? A lot'" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/6). In California, John Maffei writes Rodgers was a "show stealer." From start to finish, his analysis "was outstanding" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 2/6). SI's Peter King writes Rodgers "was splendid" during the pregame show, as he was "not afraid to be a little irrevelent" (SI.com, 2/6). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley writes both Rodgers and Ward "had presence, were well-spoken, seemed relaxed and had some fun." Rodgers "provided some engaging insights" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/6).
PLENTY OF SELF-PROMOTION: In Miami, Barry Jackson writes all networks use their Super Bowl pregame shows to promote their primetime lineups, but NBC "took that to particularly blatant extremes, to the point of absurdity at times." Stars of a dozen NBC programs "belted out a 'brotherhood' song that served no purpose other than to waste everyone’s time." NBC "aired highlights of a Boston-Washington NHL game ... simply because the network owns NHL rights." Jackson: "What about the TV series stars who were interviewed by Nick Cannon in NBC’s 'celebrity suite'? Well, what do you know? -- all four appear in NBC series" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/6). The AP's Coyle writes while NBC "kept the festivities closer to the game than some, it still offered the cringe-inducing 'Super Suite' red carpet show." Cannon "awkwardly and superficially interviewed celebrities such as Adam Sandler and Katharine McPhee, the star of 'Smash.'" Few of NBC’s stars "didn’t make cameos of some kind, from Brian Williams to '30 Rock' sketches" (AP, 2/6). In San Diego, Jay Posner writes if someone would have "misplaced Nick Cannon's credential, it would have been a pretty good show." There was "much less insanity than in previous years on CBS and Fox" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/6).
HIGHLIGHTS FROM OTHER NETS: In Houston, David Barron writes NFL Network "did a good job with a show that was light on taped features and heavy on wall-to-wall chatter." NFL Network "pulled off the chatfest relatively well, but eight hours is just too much for any pregame show." It is a "punishing experience to watch eight hours of pregame TV" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/6). The TAMPA BAY TIMES' Jones writes ESPN and the NFL Network "had impressive days as well." It is "impressive the NFL Network was able to produce 8 1/2 hours of pregame coverage and never have the coverage get stale." Same goes "for ESPN and its four hours." ESPN's coverage was "highlighted by Bill Parcells, Mike Ditka and Jon Gruden, Super Bowl-winning coaches who turned their experiences into first-rate analysis." Any time any of them "was on camera, ESPN's broadcast soared." But Jones writes it was "hard to listen to ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi on Sunday and take anything he said seriously knowing that two weeks ago, in the AFC Championship Game, the former Patriots linebacker was sitting in the box of Patriots owner Robert Kraft" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/6).
NBCSports.com's first live stream of the Super Bowl performed capably for much of the game, particularly the feed for tablet devices. The site saw what was believed to be higher-than-normal traffic compared to a normal feed of "Sunday Night Football." However, using a Safari browser on a New Jersey-based Comcast Internet connection, the PC-based stream showed significant buffering, delays and dropouts during the early portion of the game. The online feed comparatively showed much more stability and reliability within the Firefox browser. As expected, both the tablet and online feeds lagged behind the live TV feed by about 20-30 seconds, and contained a variety of alternate camera angles, statistics, highlights and links to the commercials airing on TV. NBC and parent company Comcast were actively evaluating the online feed, with monitors stationed around the country. NBCSports.com finished the first-ever live stream of the Super Bowl with a quintet of advertisers: GM, Anheuser-Busch supporting several of its beer brands, Samsung, General Electric and Relativity Media for the upcoming film, "Act of Valor." The GM ads for its Chevrolet brand included online-only spots featuring actor Rainn Wilson of "The Office," with links to Chevrolet's YouTube channel (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). STREAMINGMEDIA.com's Tim Siglin noted the NFL's first attempt to stream the Super Bowl "is to be commended," but it "wasn't ready for its prime time debut, on either the single mobile platform or the Silverlight-based desktop streaming." Viewers "might have expected quality on par with" clips from earlier playoff games, but "even that sub-standard quality ranks higher" than last night's effort (STREAMINGMEDIA.com, 2/5).
The NFL Friday announced that NFL Network will televise five additional regular-season games in ’12 as part of its “Thursday Night Football” package. The “Thursday Night Football” schedule on NFL Network will now feature 13 games, all on Thursday, from Weeks 2-15, skipping Week 12. NFL Network in previous years included at least one Saturday night game. All 32 NFL teams will now play at least one primetime game in ’12. In addition, every club will play on one Thursday following a Sunday game (NFL). ADWEEK’s Anthony Crupi wrote as has been the case since it began broadcasting "SNF" in ‘06, NBC will “once again air a special Thursday night season opener.” The net also will “assume the rights to the NFL Network’s Thanksgiving night game, which coincides with Week 12” (ADWEEK.com, 2/3). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke of the NFL Network schedule expansion during his state of the league address and said, “We think that’s great for the teams because everyone will get that primetime exposure and we think it’s great for the network." NFL Network is still not carried on Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, and Goodell said, "We’ll continue to work with them. We’ll continue to try to get an agreement, but the market has spoken. The NFL Network’s here and it’s going to continue to grow” (NFL Network, 2/3). In N.Y., Judy Battista wrote the increase in Thursday games is “likely an attempt by the league to increase the value of the network as it continues to try to negotiate deals with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/4). A TWC spokesperson said that although “no discussions are currently happening with the net, the MSO remains willing to negotiate” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/6). The NFL also announced the creation of a Spanish-language RedZone channel. A league spokesperson said the net “has yet to sign up any charter affiliates for the new service, whose English-language counterpart counts 125 TV distributors around the country.” MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted the vast majority of RedZone affiliates, “including Comcast, Dish Network and Verizon FiOS, position it on sports tiers.” It is “unclear if the Spanish-language service would be similarly situated, or become part of Hispanic packages” (MULTICHANNEL.com, 2/3).
THE GOLD STANDARD: The AP’s Howard Fendrich wrote it seems nothing “can get in the way of the NFL, whose ratings and revenues climb and climb, no matter what." NFL games accounted for 23 of the 25 "most-watched telecasts last fall, and a total of 37 games drew at least 20 million viewers each.” Former CBS Sports President and media consultant Neal Pilson said, “Sports is, to a certain extent, recession-proof. You can see a sports event 10 different ways: on television, on your laptop, on your iPad, on your mobile phone, in bars and restaurants, in airports. There’s no other entertainment property that is so ubiquitous.” Octagon First Call Managing Dir David Schwab said, “From September to January, every Sunday, that’s when football comes. That’s a huge advantage. Every Sunday at 1 o’clock, 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock have become what NBC Thursday nights used to be: ’Must See TV’" (AP, 2/4).
Ratings are why NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus and his bosses “shelled out more than $15 billion on sports rights last year in wide-ranging deals that lock up the NHL, NFL, PGA Tour, Olympics and Spanish-language World Cup for years to come,” according to Marisa Guthrie of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Lazarus said that this summer's London Games “already have booked more than $900 million in national ad dollars and are on pace to surpass Beijing's $1 billion haul, though it's too early to tell if the company ultimately will make back the $1.2 billion Lazarus' predecessor, Dick Ebersol, spent prior to the financial collapse of 2008.” The Super Bowl will bring in “more than $250 million.” Guthrie notes Lazarus and Ebersol are “in many ways opposites in temperament and style.” Ebersol is “a showman and skilled flesh-presser,” whereas Lazarus “is understated and admittedly self-conscious about publicity.” The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with Lazarus.
Q: Everyone assumes sports is a loss leader. But Ebersol always maintained that the NFL was profitable for NBC. Does "Sunday Night Football" make money?
Lazarus: In some cases, historically that's been accurate (that football loses money). We don't believe that this deal, with all the enhancements we got (a Thanksgiving game, another divisional playoff game and three Super Bowls) and the longevity of it, that that will be the case.
Q: Is the cost of these deals going to get passed on to cable and satellite customers?
Lazarus: I can't predict if a packaged-goods company is going to raise their prices because we charge more because our ratings are higher. But our (sports) ratings are as high as they've ever been, and we should be compensated for the value that we bring to marketers. And we are.
Q: The Olympics will be live on NBC Sports Network every day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Are you looking for higher fees from cable operators for the channel?
Lazarus: Sure, we'd love to get more money for it. But our first job with NBC Sports Network is to continue to round out the distribution. We're in 76 or 77 million homes today with the goal of getting into 90 million homes. We have some operators that we're working on to be fully distributed as opposed to just well-distributed.
Q: Is there still a concern at the company that airing the Olympics live will undercut primetime tune-in?
Lazarus: Yes, and some things we'll put live on cable networks, and some things we'll just stream online. … And we'll still protect some of the big sports; we'll do what we can to not cannibalize the audience (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/10 issue).