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The NFL's five Week 17 game windows yesterday averaged a 12.9 overnight Nielsen rating, marking the best final Sunday since "SNF" went from cable to broadcast TV in '06. The combined rating on Sunday for CBS, Fox and NBC was up 5% compared to the final Sunday last season. NBC led the way with the Cowboys-Redskins “SNF” matchup, which the league had flexed into Sunday night. The game earned an 18.3 overnight Nielsen rating, marking the net’s best primetime regular-season rating on record and the best primetime overnight for any NFL regular season game in 15 years. Cowboys-Redskins, which determined the winner of the NFC East, is also up 7% from the net’s Cowboys-Giants in Week 17 last year, which also determined the division winner. The game led NBC to a primetime win among all nets. In DC, the game earned a 44.6 local rating, marking a record for an NFL regular-season primetime game in the market (dating back to ’87). The game also earned a 42.8 local rating in Richmond and a 37.1 rating in Norfolk. In Dallas-Ft. Worth, the game earned a 36.9 local rating. Meanwhile, both CBS and Fox had national windows in Week 17. CBS had its national window at 1:00pm ET, which featured Texans-Colts. That window earned an 11.1 overnight, down 31% from the net’s 4:30pm national window last year, which featured Chiefs-Broncos. CBS’ regional coverage earned an 8.1 overnight, down 24%. Fox earned a 16.4 overnight for its Week 17 national window in the 4:30pm window, up 38% from last year, when Buccaneers-Falcons was featured. The net’s regional coverage earned a 10.8 overnight, up 80% (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).NFL WEEK 17 SUNDAY OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGSNET'12 GAMERAT.'11 GAMERAT.% +/-Fox(regional)10.8(regional)6.080.0%CBS(regional)8.1(regional)10.6-23.6%FoxPackers-Vikings (82%)16.4Buccaneers-Falcons (89%)11.937.8%CBSTexans-Colts (64%)11.1Chiefs-Broncos (68%)16.1-31.1%NBCCowboys-Redskins18.3Cowboys-Giants17.17.0%
CRITICAL CRIS: In Dallas, Barry Horn notes that following Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s third interception on Sunday night, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth “pulled out the sledgehammer." Collinsworth said, “It started horribly and it looks like it may end horribly.” Horn writes Collinsworth “always sounds more critical of Romo than his fellow lead analysts, Fox’s Troy Aikman and CBS’ Phil Simms," both former QBs. But Romo receives “not so much” empathy from Collinsworth, who was a WR (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/31).
ZOOMING OUT: In DC, Dan Steinberg wrote of NBC's camera angles during the net's Cowboys-Redskins telecast, "Why so many high high high shots, NBC? Why change what we’re used to during the final game of the regular season, when we just don’t want to be distracted by anything new and different?" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/30). The DALLAS MORNING NEWS' Horn writes NBC offered “too many shots from a high angle camera that must have been planted atop the Washington Monument” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/31). SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote on his Twitter feed, "Can NBC please stop with the camera that's 8 million feet in the sky." DC-based WTTG sports reporter Dave Ross: "Not trying to dump on my #nbc brethren, but i despise your camera angles. if i wanted bad nose bleed seats, id buy those on my own."
WEIGHING IN: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote it is “hard to get too worked up about the deficiencies of a telecast when the game being covered feels like a preseason contest.” That was the case Sunday “as the Ravens’ junior varsity lost to the second-string Cincinnati Bengals 23-17 -- with the fourth-string CBS crew calling the game.” CBS play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan and analyst Solomon Wilcots are “among the worst with that kind of gasbag talk.” They are “constantly telling viewers what players are thinking as if they have special inside knowledge when all they have is hot air and broadcast-booth bluster.” Zurawik wrote CBS’ pregame show on Sunday “included a powerful interview" by Greg Gumbel with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, "who returned to the sidelines Sunday after undergoing chemotherapy.” ESPN’s pregame show also “had a powerful interview by Rachel Nichols with Pagano focusing on the light in his office that was never turned off until he returned to the team.” Zurawik: “I have criticized both pre-game shows in the past, but they came up big Sunday in their skilled and sensitive packaging of this interview” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 12/30).
ESPN averaged an 8.2 U.S. rating and 12.8 million viewers for its “MNF” games this season, marking the second straight season of declines for the primetime cable package. The net’s 17 games were down 2% and 3%, respectively, from last season and down 10% and 12%, respectively, from the record-setting averages in ’10. With the final “MNF” telecast moved to a Saturday night to avoid Christmas Eve, the net drew a 6.0 rating and 9.7 million viewers for the Dec. 22 Falcons-Lions matchup, marking the least-viewed “MNF” telecast since Jaguars-Texans on Dec. 1, 2008. The net’s best telecast was Bears-Cowboys in Week 4, with the Oct. 1 game drawing a 10.5 rating and 16.6 million viewers. Despite a year-over-year drop for the package, each “MNF” telecast remained the most-viewed telecast on all of cable TV each week.ESPN "MNF" AUDIENCE TRENDYEARU.S. RATINGVIEWERS (000)'128.212,826'118.413,252'109.114,657'099.014,382'087.611,962'077.311,230'068.212,325
It is a "slap to the face of women's HARTFORD COURANT, 12/29). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes it was "disappointing" that the game was on ESPNU. It would have been "nice to see this game get a little higher profile on ESPN, ESPN2 or even ABC instead of being relegated to one of the lesser-watched stations in ESPN's stable" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/31).that the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown between Stanford and UConn ended up being relegated to ESPNU," according to Jeff Jacobs of the HARTFORD COURANT. UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, "If they are NFL games, then I understand. But if they're not NFL games and it's two bowl games among the other 56 bowl games or however many there are. … I guess the TV people have already done their homework and have come to a conclusion that some 6-6 team from one part of the country playing another 6-6 team from another part of the country is probably a great game and great for the fans." Jacobs noted Saturday's lineup on ESPN and ESPN2 was not "exactly boffo box office." UConn-Stanford "got beat out by the Armed Forces Bowl between unranked Rice (6-6) and Air Force (6-6)." It also got "beat out by the Pinstripe Bowl between unranked West Virginia (7-5) and Syracuse (7-5)." Auriemma said, "That's the battle we fight all the time. That's the battle that women's sports in general fight. I don't know how you can win the battle other than play some great games, play a game on Saturday that everybody says they wished that more people had seen." Jacobs: "If schools don't see returns over time, how will they react?" If ESPN is "so loaded with inventory, are they, well, overloaded?" With NBC Sports and "some other entities gathering on the national horizon, could some competition with time slots to fill eventually give a greater platform?" Jacobs: "Wouldn't this have been the perfect day for ESPN to debate this all in front of its biggest possible national audience? ... I'd argue that ESPN and women's basketball missed a chance here" (