SBD/September 7, 2012/NFL Season Preview

NBC's Cowboys-Giants Marks Third Best Audience In 11 Years Of NFL Kickoff Game

NBC finished with a 14.7 rating and 23.9 million viewers for the Cowboys-Giants game on Wednesday from 8:41-11:30pm ET, marking the third best audience for an NFL Kickoff telecast since the event was created 11 years ago. Cowboys-Giants ranks only below last year's Saints-Packers matchup and the Vikings-Saints game from '10. The game delivered NBC a win in primetime, despite competition from the Democratic National Convention, which featured former President Bill Clinton's speech from 10:30-11:30pm. Dallas-Ft. Worth topped all local markets for Cowboys-Giants with a 34.0 local rating, while N.Y. ranked eighth with a 20.0 rating. Excluded from all Nielsen ratings was the New Orleans market in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. That market last season ranked as NBC's top market for "SNF" (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

NFL KICKOFF AUDIENCE TREND
YEAR
MATCHUP
NET
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'12
Cowboys-Giants*
NBC
14.7
23,900
'11
Saints-Packers
NBC
16.0
27,169
'10
Vikings-Saints
NBC
16.5
27,485
'09
Titans-Steelers
NBC
12.8
20,909
'08
Redskins-Giants**
NBC
8.6
13,531
'07
Saints-Colts
NBC
11.5
17,791
'06
Dolphins-Steelers
NBC
12.6
19,196
'05
Raiders-Patriots
ABC
11.7
18,806
'04
Colts-Patriots
ABC
11.4
16,879
'03
Jets-Redskins
ABC
12.9
19,200
'02
49ers-Giants
ESPN
7.6
n/a
   

CHART NOTES: * = Game aired on a Wednesday night. All other games aired on a Thursday night. ** = Game started at 7:00pm ET to accommodate coverage of the Republican National Convention.

BILL OF SERVICE: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand reported the rating for Cowboys-Giants "more than doubled ratings for broadcast network TV coverage of the Democratic National Convention." ABC and CBS began their coverage at 10:00pm, but NBC "topped the combined broadcast network audiences for the Democrats' show." During the 10:00-11:00pm hour, there was a "combined total of 19.4 million viewers for convention coverage" on MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS and Fox News, while NBC drew 23 million viewers after 10:00pm (USATODAY.com, 9/6). In DC, Lisa De Moraes writes in the battle of "NFL vs. Clinton -- Clinton wins." Clinton's keynote speech Wednesday night averaged 22.769 million viewers on the five aforementioned channels. That is just 354,000 viewers behind the Cowboys-Giants average in the 10:30-11:30pm window. However, Current TV averaged 197,000 viewers and PBS, for which Nielsen does not give out ratings, "estimated that its Clinton coverage at the DNC averaged about 4 million viewers." De Moraes notes the NFL did begin its season "on a Wednesday night, which is practically a crime against nature." There has "not been an NFL game on a Wednesday night since 1948." Which means "no one really important to NBC -- the network sells 18-to-49-year-old viewers to advertisers -- had ever seen a Wednesday night NFL game" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/7).

BIGGER IN TEXAS: In Ft. Worth, Tinsley & Philpot write in North Texas it was the Cowboys "who ruled the air waves." Forty-eight percent of viewers in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market during the 9:00-10:00pm CT hour "tuned into the football game." About 1.3 million "local viewers watched the game" on KXAS-NBC (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/7).

NUMBERS NEVER LIE, OR DISAPPOINT: Patriots President Jonathan Kraft appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday, and CNBC’s Joe Kernen referenced the Pats losing Super Bowl XLVI to the Giants by asking Kraft, “Will you agree with me the Giants got exactly what was coming to them by the Cowboys? Did you and your father send flowers to Jerry Jones? What did you do after that? Did that feel good to you? Just say yes.” Kraft: “The best part of that game was the rating. It trounced everything else on television that night.” Kernen, ever the company man, said, “It was on NBC too, so you’re exactly right. That was the best thing about it" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 9/7).
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